I’ve recently been tempted to make a leadership intervention at home to help decision making as we progress through a rather painful and prolonged home renovation. The current sticking point is paint colour. My husband has a relatively short attention span for what he considers to be a “detail” – so unless he has a very strong view for or against a particular colour it can be very difficult to judge whether a decision I make could come back to bite me.

I’ve seen the following “7 levels of agreement” (sometimes reduced to 5 or 3 levels) framework used very successfully with different teams. The facilitator or proposer asks each individual with a stake in the decision the questions explicitly, even when everyone appears to be aligned, in order to flush out any differences of opinion during the discussion rather than afterwards. When used on a regular basis team members start to use the levels fluently in discussions to assess alignment and to explore different perspectives as part of the decision making process.

Of course, whoever is facilitating the discussion needs to be clear which level of agreement constitutes a “go”. With regard to my current challenge, I know I’m unlikely to get a 1 and will go ahead at level 4 in the interests time and with the knowledge that the a couple of hours with a paintbrush can put things right if necessary. Although I might need to use the same process to agree who wields the paintbrush!  

  1. I totally agree – best idea since sliced bread
  2. Good idea/decision – I can see how this can work
  3. Not the idea/decision I would've made – but OK
  4. I don't really agree, but I can and will support it
  5. I don't think this will work and can't agree to go forward without modification
  6. This idea/decision will be detrimental; I can't agree at all
  7. No way. You'll have to kill me first.

by Julie Williams

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