4. Juni 2019

Ways to decide

Markus Hippeli

A team meeting: We have discussed the problem, made up several good options and now we just need to decide for one of them. But how?

In self-organized teams, where there is no boss who would automatically make the decision, deciding can take a long time, be very tedious, or decisions are revised again and again because the decision was not made in a suitable way.

To solve this problem, important components for the group have to be conscious when it makes a decision, and also have to document and communicate decisions to absent team members and stakeholders.

Also techniques for the process of decision-making itself can be very helpful. In this article, we want to present a few.


If a decision is made by consensus, this means that everyone agrees to the selected option (no dissenting votes or abstention from voting).


In a decision made by consent, there are no vetoes against the winning option. Everyone either agrees with the winning
option or abstains from voting.

Absolute majority

A winning option has absolute majority if it has more than half of all the possible votes. There might be voters who are against the option (unlike in consensus or consent) and also abstention from voting but at least 50 % of all the voters have to have voted for it.

Relative majority

When deciding by relative majority, the option with most votes wins. The number of votes - even if these are just a few, for example, because of a low voter participation - is not relevant.


If a decision is made by authority, one person makes the decision on his or her own and just announces it to the group.


As in a decision made by authority, in consultation again one person makes the decision and announces it to the group.
However, before that there is a consultation phase: The person who will make the decisions asks the others for their opinions, knowledge regarding the decision, preferences, and so on, and takes these into account when making the decision.

Systemic consensus

Similar to consent, systemic consensus is looking for low resistance instead of approval of the winning option, however, in a more sophisticated way. To make a decision by systemic consensus, draw a table with one column per option. The rows of the table will correspond to the voters. Then, each voter decides for each option for a resistance value from 0 (no resistance) to 10 (maximum resistance). These numbers are written inside the table cells. Then, the resistance values in each column are added up. The option corresponding to the column with the smallest sum of resistance values wins.

… add your own

Of course there are many more ways to make decisions than the ones presented here. If you find another one that works well for you, use it. And please post it as a comment to this article, so that others can also profit. Thank you!


We have created a poster with a summary of these decision techniques. So if you want to make the decision techniques visible in your team space, get one here.

Now we only leave you with the question: How do you decide which decision-making technique you should use in which situation?


Markus Hippeli
Agile | Action | Organization

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