Module 6: Solutions for Mutual Purpose – Section 2

The following is Section 2 from Module 6 of “Essential Skills for Engaging Conflict”, a course that Sound Options Group developed in partnership with Oklahoma State University.  These modules are a great resource to lead your team through as you work to improve your conflict engagement skills.


Strategies for effectively sorting through a range of options

If we have been successful in our Exploration and Brainstorming process we are faced with a list of possible options.  It is now time to shift the conversation to more convergent thinking in which the task is to begin sorting potential options into categories, evaluating alternatives, and arriving at some general conclusions.  This can be done in a structured our unstructured fashion.  In some cases the group will almost immediately gravitate to a specific idea or cluster of ideas.  It is obvious to everyone what makes most sense and participants are ready to move towards implementation.  In other situations we may move through a series of steps designed to support the sorting and evaluation of ideas.

First of all it is important to review as a group, the criteria that will be used to judge each option.  Typically these criteria will include:

  • The shared and individual “Interests” identified in the exploration phase of this process.
  • Any industry, regulatory or legal parameters that participants recognize as relevant to this decision, and
  • Any other standards that the group might have adopted in relationship to this decision.

The following are three examples of strategies used by groups to systematically sort through a range of possible choices:

  • The first process, referred to as “Winnowing” involves sorting ideas with potential from those that have no possibility for implementation or to which no one is committed.  Winnowing literally means to separate the wheat from the chaff or the “good” from the “bad”.  It is a quick way to eliminate ideas that are not worth pursuing.
  • A second process is referred to “Multi-voting”.  Many of you have participated in a large group process in which you are asked to place colored dots next to your top choices.  In this way a group or team can identify the idea or cluster of ideas to which there is the greatest level of commitment.  This will often result in 5-7 options that the group is willing to consider for implementation.
  • A final process involves creating a “Matrix” by which you evaluate each option against specific interests and/or standards.  In most cases some form of Likert Scale is applied to weight the various comparisons.  A sum of the weighted comparisons will often reveal the “best” option for implementation.

Options/Interests                A               B               B               D                Score






As a group,use the following questions to increase your shared understanding of the evaluation process:

  • In your experience, what typically happens at this stage of a process of collaboration?
  • Share examples of effective strategies you have experienced for sorting through a range of potential options or choices.
  • How might you individually or as a group improve in this area?



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