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Collaborative Consensus Decision Making Matrix

Posted: 10/18/2016
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Consensus decision-making is a process in which group members develop and agree to support a decision in the best interest of the group. Consensus may be defined professionally as an acceptable resolution, one that can be supported, even if not the “favorite” of each individual.  Getting a group to come to consensus on an issue or problem is one of the hardest tasks a facilitator can undertake. When the group finds widespread agreement, planning and the implementation of decisions will be much more effective. Learning new tools and ways to work together can also benefit future accomplishments.  

Striving for consensus requires that the group breaks the issue or problem under consideration into its three to four primary components. Primary components are key system elements, factors, or leverage points which contribute directly to achieving an understanding or resolution to an issue or problem. Since primary components are usually broad in scope they need to be broken down into their secondary components which are more in the form of descriptions, actions, interventions, or lower-level components necessary to achieve the primary component. Some key characteristics of secondary components are that they are:

  • Definable, tangible, actionable, and detailable
  • dentifiable changes that can be tested in order to affect the primary component
  • Measureable

The Collaborative Consensus Decision Making Matrix is used when a group is struggling to come to a consensus decision around an issue or problem. The matrix helps provide a structure to discuss the issue or problem and allow everyone concerned with the issue or problem to have an input to the final acceptable resolution.

Construction Steps:

1.  A core team breaks the issue or problem under consideration into its Primary Components (PC) and their Secondary Components (SC).
2.  Appoint a team lead who is a subject matter expert for each Primary Component. The team lead is responsible for collecting the comments for their Primary and Secondary Components from all those involved. They are also responsible for the final wording of their Primary Component.
3. Populate the Collaborative Consensus Decision Making Matrix with the Primary Components (PC) and associated Secondary Components SC) of the issue or problem under consideration as shown in Figure 1.

Collaborative Consensus Decision Making Matrix

Figure 1

4. Convene a meeting of all interested stakeholders on the issue or problem. Break stakeholders into teams so every Primary Component is covered with a team.
5. Rotate the teams every 20 minutes until each team has had a chance to comment on each of the Primary Components and Secondary Components. They can agree, add, change, or delete.
6. The Primary Component team leads do not rotate since they are the subject matter expert and are capturing the comments from each of the teams.
7. When all of the team have finished their comment rotations the team leads give a 10 minute overview of the final rewording reversion of what was agreed to for their assigned Primary Component.
8.When all the Primary Component team leads have finished their reports there should be a consensus on an acceptable response to the issue or problem.


Table for matrix article

1. John W. Moran, Ph.D., MBA, MS is a Senior Quality Advisor to the Public Health Foundation.  Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health in the Division of Health Policy and Management 2011-2015. A former member of PHAB’s Evaluation and Quality Improvement Committee 2013 – 2015. Adjunct Professor Arizona State University College of Health Solutions' School for the Science of Health 2013 – present. President of the Board Healthy Maine Partnership - of Choose To Be Health in York County, Maine 2011 – 2016.

2. Amanda McCarty, MS, MBA, MS-HCA is an Assistant Professor in Health Sciences Administration at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology and Quality Improvement Consultant for the Public Health Foundation. Former Director of Performance Management & Systems Development at the West Virginia’s Bureau for Public Health – responsible for accreditation, performance management, strategic planning and quality improvement efforts (2012-2016). Former Clinical Consultant at Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield/Highmark, Inc. in health promotion, disease prevention, quality improvement and evaluation (2003-2012).

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making

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