Collective decision-making tools

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There are many tools and techniques that can assist in making wise decisions. Many are described briefly here and are also described in more depth in the Wikiversity thinking tools course. Studying that course may be helpful. Become familiar with these tools and use them when they can assist in any particular situation.

Secondary Research[edit | edit source]

Secondary research can help answer the question “What is already known about this problem?” This is often the first place to start understanding the problem better.

Begin each collective decision-making session by expecting civility, practicing dialogue, encouraging candor, and inviting deliberation.

Because so much information is readily available these days it makes sense to begin solving problems by searching available information. Useful information sources include: general web searches such as Google Search, specialized web searches such as Google Scholar, on-line encyclopedias such as Wikipedia and Scholarpedia; libraries, books, periodicals, Academic journals, News media, archives, standards, written law, bibliographic databases, and others.

Benchmarking[edit | edit source]

Benchmarking can help us answer the question “How do they do that?

The simplest approach to benchmarking is to identify some existing solution to your problem, or some related problem, and learn all you can from that solution. We benchmark every day when we ask friends to name their favorite restaurants, smartphone applications, books to read, or college to attend. More formal benchmarking efforts may follow a comprehensive procedure.

Creative people claim, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” We certainly don’t advocate theft, plagiarism, or isolation. We also don’t advocate reinventing the wheel, or ignorance. Begin with the best practice in mind.

Appreciative Inquiry[edit | edit source]

Appreciative inquiry uses ways of asking questions and envisioning the future to foster positive relationships and build on the present potential of a given person, organization or situation. The most common model utilizes a cycle of four processes, which focus on what it calls:

  1. DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
  2. DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
  3. DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
  4. DESTINY (or DEPLOY): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.[15]

The aim is to build – or rebuild – organizations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn't. Appreciative Inquiry practitioners describe this approach as a complement to solving problems.

Affinity Diagram[edit | edit source]

The affinity diagram is a thinking tool used to organize ideas and data. It is sometimes referred to as the KJ Method. An affinity diagram gathers large amounts of language data originating as ideas, opinions, issues, solutions, etc., and organizes them into groupings based on natural relationships that become apparent and emerge from the data. It can be used as a useful starting point for groups working to better understand some problem space or solution space.

Tree Diagram[edit | edit source]

A tree diagram visually represents the hierarchical nature of some structure. It is useful to assess completeness and relationships of ideas, tasks, components, or other elements of a complex or composite system. A tree diagram can help to create a taxonomy of the topic being studied.

It is often useful to use a tree diagram to further develop and analyze the information that results from creating an affinity diagram. A tree diagram provides an analytical representation that can complement the organic structure of an affinity diagram. A completed tree structure includes terminal nodes or leaf nodes at the lowest level of the hierarchy. These terminal nodes are clearly defined and cannot be usefully subdivided.

The studying the Wikiversity curriculum on Possibilities can help identify additional alternatives that the group can wisely consider.

Decision Matrix[edit | edit source]

A decision matrix organizes a systematic comparison of decision alternatives, based on identified decision criteria. It can help groups choose among a variety of proposed alternative solutions and narrow a list of options to a best choice.

Representation[edit | edit source]

As a design emerges, it can be represented in a variety of forms. These may include a sketch, narrative description, technical specifications, engineering drawings, artistic drawings, physical models, breadboard, proof of concept, CAD models, use case scenarios, graphic presentations, video, technology demonstrations, or prototypes.

Decision Support Systems[edit | edit source]

A decision support system (DSS) is an information system that supports business or organizational decision-making activities. DSSs serve the management, operations and planning levels of an organization (usually mid and higher management) and help people make decisions about problems that may be rapidly changing and not easily specified in advance—i.e. unstructured and semi-structured decision problems. Use appropriate decision support systems to inform group decisions.

Prediction Markets[edit | edit source]

Prediction markets are open exchange markets where specific outcomes can be predicted using financial incentives. Essentially, they are exchange-traded markets created for the purpose of trading on the outcome of events. The market prices can indicate what the crowd thinks the probability of the event is.

Charrette[edit | edit source]

A charrette (sometimes called a design charrette) is an intense period of design or planning activity.

The word charrette may refer to any collaborative process by which a group of designers draft a solution to a design problem, and in a broader sense can be applied to the development of public policy through dialogue between decision-makers and stakeholders.

Software Tools[edit | edit source]

A variety of software tools are available that can assist groups with collaborative decision-making processes. These include:

  • Loomio is decision-making software and web service designed to assist groups with collaborative, consensus-focused decision-making processes. It is a free software[3] web application, where users can initiate discussions and offer proposals. As the discussions progress to initiating a proposal, the group receives feedback through an updatable pie chart or other data visualizations. Loomio is primarily a web-based forum (with an optional email delivery interface) with tools to facilitate conversations and decision-making processes from starting and holding conversations to reaching outcome.
  • Polis is a real-time system for gathering, analyzing and understanding what large groups of people think in their own words, enabled by advanced statistics and machine learning.[1]

Dispute resolution[edit | edit source]

Dispute resolution or dispute settlement is the process of resolving disputes between parties. The term dispute resolution is sometimes used interchangeably with conflict resolution. Several options for dispute resolution exist, including arbitration, mediation, negotiation, and the court system.

Summary and Conclusions[edit | edit source]

Become familiar with the wide variety of collective decision-making tools that are available. Use the tools most suitable to your situation.

While coming to a collective decision is often difficult, keep in mind that panels of judges routinely decide on the winner of various ice dancing competitions. If a group can decide on the best ice dance, your group can probably also come to a wise decision on the problems you are facing.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. website.