|Parallel thinking forces each participant to consider all points of view and prevents one view from dominating the dialogue.|
After conducting the parallel thinking dialogue, the facilitator then announces a follow-on technique for decision making. Joint Application Development (JAD) is an effective technique for settling issues. The facilitator explains this technique and how issues will be resolved (3). During the technique explanation, the facilitator gains an agreement from the participants on additional meeting rules concerning a vital role – the decision maker.
Essentially after the participants conduct a dialogue on the issues, the facilitator attempts to guide the participants through active listening and questioning - the end goal being a consensus or a compromise. If an impasse develops, the issue(s) are resolved by a neutral person called a decision maker. And per the meeting rules, the participants already agreed to accept the ruling(s) of the decision maker if needed. This allows the meeting to progress and conclude with results that the committee can forward to the full Congress for an up or down vote.
- A consensus is when participants change their positions for the betterment of the group.
- A compromise is when participants make a deal, winning their view on some of the issues and losing on others.
So Who Is the Decision Maker?
As stated above, the decision maker is a neutral person that breaks through impasses. On a project, the role is typically performed by the project sponsor. The guideline is that the person needs to be high enough in the organization to rise above the fray and decide on issues. However, in this case there is no project sponsor and finding a neutral elected official is difficult. Therefore, it is best to have a neutral arbitrator with no political affiliation. One approach is for the chairperson to blindly select an arbitrator with assurances that the arbitrator’s identity be kept anonymous (Arbitrator Protection Program?).
Unclear if Congress would consider any of the above methods even though they are proven facilitation techniques that are used in business analysis. However, there is a sense of urgency that something is needed. Just saying Congress is broken due to the participants is insufficient. Process is needed.
Writing this article has been somewhat therapeutic allowing me to put forth a constructive solution. If you know of other proven facilitation techniques that would be useful in Congress, your comments are welcomed.
Don't forget to leave your comments below.
Mr. Monteleone holds a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in computing science from Texas A&M University. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) by the Scrum Alliance, and certified in BPMN by BPMessentials. He holds an Advanced Master's Certificate in Project Management (GWCPM®) and a Business Analyst Certification (GWCBA®) from George Washington University School of Business. Mark is the President of Monteleone Consulting, LLC and can be contacted via e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org.
- de Bono, Edward (1999), Six Thinking Hats, Back Bay Books
- Webb, Jack (2005 release), Just The Facts Ma'am: The Warner Bros. Recordings
- Wood, Jane and Silver, Denise (1995), Joint Application Development, Wiley
(As seen in the International Association Facilitators 2011 October Global Flip Chart newsletter.)