TregoED Blog

Hey – where did everybody go? Supporting tough decisions

What could choosing transportation fuel options, planning a billion dollar bond referendum, and selecting a new math curriculum series possibly have in common?  If you said, “they are all issues TregoED clients are currently working on” – you’d be right!  But in addition, they each:

  • involve major decisions aimed at addressing existing problems
  • have a multi-year impact on many people
  • may result in big purchases
  • involve varied stakeholders with diverse perspectives

Decisions of this magnitude are the kinds we need to “get right”.  And usually there are several varied and firmly-entrenched opinions of what is right.   These decisions often involve a task force or recommending body comprised of stakeholders.  Undoubtedly there is lively debate and disagreement along the way.  Analytic process provides useful structure and a way to navigate the twists and turns of information demands, group dynamics, and weighty decisions.

Most likely, the group will arrive at a Best-Balanced Choice – which may or may not resemble what each person initially envisioned.  At this point, you’d like to think each task force member is on board with the choice and you have a coalition of crusaders ready to sally forth and spread the word about the benefits of your recommendation! But what happens when you feel like you’re the last man or woman standing?   What if you have people who believe in the choice, but don’t want to put their neck on the line to support it?  What do you do?  It can be lonely and confusing to be abandoned in a moment of public accountability.

Some ways to handle this include:

  • Double check to make sure that there is indeed consensus – not resistance – about what is being recommended
  • Determine who is willing to “go public” and be part of presentations or discussions as you roll-out the recommendation. These folks will be your public champions or advocates
  • Recognize that some people are just not likely to “go public” – but not because they don’t support the choice. They may fear controversy or conflict – or may not feel empowered to speak out. Find other ways for these people to contribute.  They may be the quiet leaders, influencers – or keys for successful implementation.
  • Prepare all participants for success by creating talking points using the Decision Analysis work.

Embracing a controversial idea or solution takes courage.  Opposition doesn’t mean we did not choose correctly- nor are people cowards who want to avoid opposition.  We just need to help prepare team members for what follows and recognize there are many ways to support a solution.