Hartnett's Consensus-Oriented Decision-Making Model

Developing Solutions Collectively

Group Decision

Involve everyone in the decision-making process.

© iStockphoto/urbancow

You've just brought your team together to kick-off a new project, but you seem to be getting off to a bad start.

The team is struggling to reach an agreement about the right way forward. Juan, the most dominant member of your team, immediately makes a suggestion and starts talking about its benefits. Katherine argues that that her idea is more efficient, and Kerry, who often has brilliant ideas, is too overwhelmed by Juan and Katherine to speak up.

You're soon ready to abandon the meeting!

If you work in a team, this scenario may sound familiar. It can be difficult to get a group of people to reach consensus on a decision, especially when personalities, viewpoints, and attitudes clash.

In some situations, you can cut through these problems with decisive leadership (our article on the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision Model   helps you think about when this is appropriate). In other situations, you need to find another way forward.

This is where Hartnett's Consensus-Oriented Decision-Making (CODM) model is useful. In this article, we'll look at the CODM model, and we'll examine how you can apply it when you need to make a good group decision.

About the Model

The CODM model was developed by psychologist, Dr. Tim Hartnett, and it was published his 2010 book "Consensus-Oriented Decision-Making."

The model uses a seven-step process. The steps are:

  1. Framing the problem.
  2. Having an open discussion.
  3. Identifying underlying concerns.
  4. Developing proposals.
  5. Choosing a direction.
  6. Developing a preferred solution.
  7. Closing.

By using the model, you can get everyone in the group involved in developing a solution, so that each person feels ownership of the final decision. This helps you build a more productive, committed team.

The model also encourages people to come up with creative ideas without fear of being judged. This helps the group develops better solutions and make better decisions.

The model is most useful for complex projects and problems, where you need to decide on the best way forward, and where the solution to your problem isn't clear. However, you can tailor it to a variety of other situations as well.

Tip:

It's important to remember that consensus means general agreement, not total agreement. Although this model allows everyone to participate in developing solutions, not everyone will always agree with the final decision.

How to Apply the CODM Model

We'll now look at the seven steps in greater detail, and explore how you can apply the model with a group.

Tip:

Don't feel that you have to work through these steps all at once – sometimes it will take several meetings to complete the process, depending on the complexity of the decision that you need to make.

Step 1: Framing the Problem

In this first step, you need to ensure that...

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