Evaluate options


Take each option and evaluate it by having groups discuss its strengths, weaknesses, positive impacts, and possible downsides. When there is a very long list of options, it’s useful to clump or cluster similar ones together and/or to eliminate those that no one feels strongly about.

Another method is to examine each option from different cognitive frames. It might be appropriate to use an “N‑over‑3” straw polling system to surface those that have greater prominence in the group. This can be done with dots or with written check marks. Assuming a list of roughly 21 items, participants can either spread or stack their votes, meaning they can vote for 7 different items off the list, or place all 7 of their votes on one item, or use a combination. The rule of dividing the total number by 3 is an approximation. That is why the total number could be 20 or 22 and the divisor of 3.

When the groundwork has been laid and the group is ready, a criteria/options matrix can be used. Fundamentally, this is a preferencing technique that can help groups evaluate and score different ideas against an agreed-upon set of criteria. This can be adapted for both individual and group scoring so a stakeholder body can see each individual’s weightings as well as an aggregate weighting for the whole group. It can also be used to evaluate and compare the opinions of different individuals as well as quantify the strength of a whole group’s opinion.

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