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Binary Choices are for Computers, Not for Humans

“Yes” or “No” is a fundamental issue in decision making. A binary decision is a choice between two alternatives. For instance between taking a specific action or not taking it. However, that doesn’t describe the whole picture when we’re working in groups. When you’re making a decision and just providing people with two choices you’re limiting the chance for the group to buy into your decision and give you informed feedback.
When people in a group say “Yes”, it can mean anything between and “I agree 100%” to “I’m only saying yes because you’re my boss and I have no intention of implementing this”. Saying “No”, could fall between “I won’t go ahead with this” to “I need us to talk this through more before I can agree”.

When we work with groups, we encourage them to use the Spectrum of Support tool (pictured above). It provides a much richer opportunity for team members to share their opinions. It surfaces objections and concerns so you can really understand where people stand.

There will be big decisions when you need the full support of your team or stakeholders. Therefore you absolutely need to give people the opportunity to voice their opinion. Let them think about how the solution can be developed to make it possible for everyone to support it. Once you’ve identified where people are, you can then start to work with them to develop your solution so that everyone can buy-in. It’s a very worthwhile investment in time.

Please feel free to try it with your decisions and let Dani and I know how you get on!

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