Interest Area: Creative Edge Organizations – Ten First Steps

Win/Win Decision Making

A simple but disciplined method for arriving at win/win decisions is the speaking circle structure used in some Native American cultures and by the Quakers. Very simply, each person has an uninterrupted turn to speak, sometimes a speaking stone or other talisman passing from speaker to speaker to establish each person’s uninterrupted turn. Time limits can also be used to insure equal opportunities for input.

Because no interruptions are allowed, speakers are able to get below the level of competitive, polarized argument and to speak from a place of deeper wisdom or more honest acknowledgment of needs or agendas. And, because listeners are not having to compete for a turn or stay focused on what they are going to say next, they are able to actually listen in a thorough and focused way.

As the speakers go around in the circle, eventually, some totally new idea or solution arises out of the cumulated, deeply listened-to expressions. Boom! A win/win solution, some totally-new, mutually-creative, all-inclusive “third way” arises out of what seemed to be irresolvable conflict. However, in this consensual method, unlimited time is needed for problem solving.

Coordinated Collaboration of CEDM  provides a method for maximum decision-making input from everyone in the general membership of an organization or work groups within a corporation within a limited time structure.  The Coordinator sets  time-limited open periods where everyone can comment on and brainstorm about and look for win/win decisions. After a specified open comment period, the Coordinator gathers up the opinions expressed and tries to meld them into an action plan that fits the needs of as many as possible.

This includes those in the “hierarchy” (officers, committee members, managers) who may have specialized information and constraints which affect the final decision. Then, the proposed plan can be posted for collaborated comment again, for a specified time period, and the final decisions made by the Coordinator, or Coordinating Committee, or the officers, or the supervisors, or a final vote of the general membership.

People are not usually stuck on having everything turn out their way. What they want is a chance to participate, to be heard, to try to find solutions that can meet the needs of as many people as possible. Usually, when they feel heard, they are more willing to let a higher body make the decision and more willing to carry the decision out willingly.

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These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.