Facilitation Tips for People in a Hurry #1: The volatile decision-space quadrants

I always try to introduce new visual aids, tools & or other summarizing techniques to facilitate efficient & effective decision-making sessions.  And when I facilitate I always get super excited when I witness that group IQ increase happening.  In order to do this, I sometimes make use of or extract ideas from various creative problem solving techniques & frameworks, like from design thinking for instance.

Here, I share with you my appreciation of the decision-space quadrants. I have found them to be really helpful in practice. They just get the job done. They provide the needed focus on the prioritization of complex tasks or work chunks, so they make the relevant decision-making feel easy & fast, demanding only the minimum required cognitive effort from participants.

The main idea with decision-space quadrants is to come up with the two most relevant dimensions upon which you want to measure and map your problem or solution space. Just gather people, draw the Cartesian plane, have some Post-it® notes close-by, a few markers and you’re ready to go.

The most common dimensions I use in practice are :

a) Urgency vs Impact (example: MVP)

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Applying the Urgency vs Impact decision-space quadrants to identify & prioritize an MVP

and b) Value vs Ease (example: Technical Debt)

techdebt_original_blurred

techdebt_blurred

Applying the Value vs Ease decision-space quadrants to identify & prioritize technical debt

This simple little tool along with some good facilitation practices (for example aiming for consent when consensus looks impossible) can make a powerful combination that will help you facilitate problem solving workshops effectively.

In my experience, the more complex the challenge at hand (due to high organizational complexity, multiple stakeholders, complex business settings and/or rules, multiple competing goals etc) the higher this skill is valued. And for a good reason. We live in an era of many such (VUCA) challenges after all. A workshop/meeting to identify & decide, let’s say on an MVP in such a setting, could potentially never reach an end-state and could go on and on and on, until everybody gets burned, disappointed and frustrated.

Effective facilitation is one of those highly valued skills any scrum master, coach or agile practitioner should keep on practicing to mastery. It’s a fine art to be able to assist people in clarifying hidden assumptions,  uncovering unnoticed correlations and driving them to knowledge discovery.

Facilitation tools like this one can make a big difference in your sessions. I hope that you give the decision-space quadrants a try to see for yourselves!

Thanks for reading!

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