April 11, 2018

Agile Coach Toolkit #6: Building Consensus

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Being a Scrum Master of a team with strong personalities can be challenging at times especially when two or more people believe that their approach is right. Such situations may call for Effective Facilitation to build consensus. This will help get the best out of the productive dissent at the same time ensuring that they do not fortify into sub-groups.

There are multiple benefits of building consensus –

  • Better decision-making as discussions would help uncover flaws/ situations which individuals may not have thought of.
  • Assist in better implementation of solution since everyone cooperates as it is a team decision.
  • Maintains team’s working relationship healthy by making everyone feel included.

Before going for a team discussion, it would help if you know the personalities you are engaging with and using Root Cause Analysis in one-to-one conversation to uncover any personality conflicts between the participants.

Steps for Building Consensus:

  • Have everyone understand the meaning of giving consent by encouraging them to think about what’s best for the entire team rather than individuals.
  • Clearly articulate what needs to be decided. It may be a good idea to also layout why the issue is being raised.
  • Before pitching for lengthy discussion, do a quick poll to check if there is consensus. If majority of the team agrees to a solution, listen to the concerns of dissenters. Adapt the popular solution to get their points addressed so we have a win-win solution.
  • If there is a disagreement amongst team members, allow everyone to voice their concerns during the discussion so their ideas can be included. It would be a good idea to list them to ensure these get addressed.
  • List Scrum Values and ask people the follow them throughout the discussion.
  • Leverage Timeboxing to ensure that you curtail lengthy discussions.
  • For final decision, do another poll to see if majority of the team agrees. Dissenter (if any), can serve as critical evaluator of the implementation of team decision. This may help spot issues before rest of the team can see it.
  • Ensure that the team decision is communicated at the end of the meeting.

Have you used this technique? If yes, please share your story.

 

References

Agile Coaching – Rachel Davies, Liz Sedley

https://www.wikihow.com/Reach-a-Consensus