Friday, June 27, 2008

Bahá'í Consultation model and decision making

We are making decisions all the time, either by ourselves or by collaborating with others. There are times where it is easier to make decisions and sometimes tough. One of the classic example is performance moderation session that all supervisors and their teams have to go through in their career, one time or the other. Have you ever attended such meetings in larger organizations ?, if not, here is a preview.
Each supervisor/manager brings the data about their team members and each of these supervisors would have come to the meeting with their own agenda i.e. to get promotions/good hikes to their team members. Most of the time, there are more candidates than the allocated budget and this is a tough situation as only a few, can be chosen for hike/promotions. In situations like this where each one is pursuing their own goal and not a common one, decision making becomes even more difficult.

Above example is an extreme one which may not happen daily, however we commonly come across group meetings where collective decision has to be taken.

How do you make decisions in such situations ?
In such situations one of the best suited techniques would be to apply the Baha'is consultation model". As you might be aware, Baha's is a religion. The goal of consultation the Bahá'í way is to discover the best course of action to take for the well-being of all.

Here are the 4 steps in Bahá'ís consultation technique:

      1. Establish the full facts;
      2. Decide on the principles to be applied;
      3. Discuss the matter;
      4. Make a decision.
In this technique, each participant would be given an opportunity to express their opinions, and everybody has to vote for all the ideas shared by the participants. This in turn results in ideas becoming "group's" property rather than individual's. People who would have come with malafide intentions cannot push their ideas as the rest of the crowd has to be in agreement. Respect for people and ideas are given highest priority in Baha'is consultation model.

Here are some good resources throwing more light on this model

This technique could be applied during Estimation and retrospective sessions in Scrum.

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