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How do we decide when there are so many options? Part 2

In last week’s post, we discussed some practical things you can do to move toward making a decision when there are many different options. Once you have really assessed resources, developed criteria and discussed the possibilities, then it’s time to really move toward a decision. Depending on your team or coalition, there are some things that will work better than others. You can try one of these ideas, and if it doesn’t work well, then try another! What works for one group or coalition may work very differently in another group or coalition. And what works at one time may not work at another time.

Here are 3 strategies to try when you are trying to make a collective decision and there are still so many options.

  1. Conduct an anonymous survey.  You can do this in person with a “paper ballot” or you can do this through an online survey. If you are at a meeting and would like to make a decision, but think it is best if the decision was anonymous, try a simple paper survey. You can have slips of paper with options listed on them and each person can select the one (or two – depending upon resources) areas to prioritize. There are also many different online survey tools available. Some of these have a free version depending upon the number and types of questions you want to ask. You can ask your coalition or team members to vote on which options to choose.
  2. Use dots or stickers. If you are hosting an in-person meeting that is not contentious and doesn’t necessarily need to be anonymous, you may want to use a method that allows people to have a certain number of “dots or stickers” that they can place on a flip chart or poster board with the topic area they want to prioritize.  Although many of you have probably done this and perhaps have even grown weary with this form of decision-making, it is nice to visually see where the support is for each priority.
  3. Create a “bike rack.” You can also call it a “parking lot”.  Since most of my work is in cancer prevention, I like the healthier sounding option!  ?  Basically, this is a place where you can put some of the great options or ideas that may not have garnered as much support at this point in time but you want to remember the ideas and revisit them the next time you have an opportunity for priority setting. It is also important to try to connect these ideas to specific people who expressed interest in the topic.  One of the ways you can provide support to the topics and areas that did not make the final “priority cut” is to keep an eye out for potential resources related to the “bike rack” ideas and connect those people with the ideas or resources as you see them. It’s amazing how encouraging it can be to one of your coalition members to know that even though their priority is not the coalition’s current priority, their work is valuable and you want to provide connections and enhancements to them as possible.

I know there are tons of other ideas that can work in making these difficult decisions. What about you? Do you have other suggestions when trying to make these difficult decisions?  

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Photo by Brandon Lopez on Unsplash

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