Quality Progress - October 2017 - 48

Solving quality quandaries through statistics

Statistics Spotlight
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DECISION MAKING

The Inevitable
Disagreement

by Christine M.
Anderson-Cook

Constructive consensus-building strategies for people with different perspectives
Disagreements in the workplace or elsewhere are inevitable, particularly when several individuals must make
decisions. Differences in opinions at the water cooler have
much less impact compared to a team needing to unite to
determine what action to take.
While debate and conflict are sometimes unavoidable, there
are some strategies that I have found that can help enable constructive progress toward consensus and resolution. One just
needs to look at the current U.S. political climate to see how
easily differences can lead to gridlock and the inability to move
forward productively.

A productive path forward

First, I think it is helpful to consider what is at the heart of
disagreements because this perspective can be helpful when
trying to move past them constructively. One source of conflict
is people may be operating based on different information.
Often when preliminary choices are made, they are based on
incomplete information. Different people may prefer different
options based on the information they have available. With more
complete knowledge, however, opinions might change.
The second quite different source of disagreement
stems from our backgrounds, experiences and
priorities. Most decisions involve balancing
different criteria and evaluating

48 QP

October 2017 ❘ qualityprogress.com

which tradeoff feels best when we can't get everything we want.
In rare (does this ever happen?) situations in which there is only
a single objective, finding the best choice is rarely controversial.
We are good at optimizing based on a single metric. The problem
is that most often we must simultaneously consider quality, cost,
time and risk. Even when having the same information, if we prioritize the criteria differently, different choices can be preferred.
Based on these contributors to disagreements, here are a
few ideas about how to establish a productive path forward
when faced with disagreement on a decision-making team:
1. Establish the ground rules. Before trying to make choices
between alternatives, it is helpful to discuss what the goals
and priorities are in the decision. It is less contentious to
provide a forum for people to say what is important to them
and why, than to have these conversations when particular alternatives are under consideration and people have
become entrenched with their opinions.
As writer Robert Tew said, "Don't judge someone's choices
without first knowing their reasons."1 Often, our criteria and
priorities for a decision are self-evident to us, but hidden
from others. My husband and I sometimes have discussions
in which we both think the choice is completely obvious, but
each have a different choice in mind. So itemizing and articulating the different criteria to consider when making the
decision can build empathy and understanding of alternative


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - October 2017

Seen and Heard
Progress Report
Mr. Pareto Head
Expert Answers
Career Coach
In Focus
The Results Are In
Visual Aid
Experimental Learning
Statistics Spotlight
Standard Issues
Marketplace
Footnotes
Try This Today
STANDARDS AND AUDITING GUIDE
Quality Progress - October 2017 - intro
Quality Progress - October 2017 - cover1
Quality Progress - October 2017 - cover2
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 1
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 2
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 3
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 4
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 5
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Seen and Heard
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 7
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Progress Report
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Mr. Pareto Head
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 10
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 11
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Expert Answers
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 13
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Career Coach
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 15
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 16
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 17
Quality Progress - October 2017 - In Focus
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 19
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 20
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 21
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 22
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 23
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 24
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 25
Quality Progress - October 2017 - The Results Are In
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 27
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 28
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 29
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 30
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 31
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 32
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 33
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Visual Aid
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 35
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 36
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 37
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 38
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 39
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Experimental Learning
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 41
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 42
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 43
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 44
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 45
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 46
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 47
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Statistics Spotlight
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 49
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Standard Issues
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 51
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 52
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 53
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 54
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 55
Quality Progress - October 2017 - STANDARDS AND AUDITING GUIDE
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 57
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Marketplace
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 59
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Footnotes
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 61
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 62
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 63
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Try This Today
Quality Progress - October 2017 - cover3
Quality Progress - October 2017 - cover4
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