Use Visuals for Group Decisions

collaboration decision-making visual tools and templates

Get Out of the Groan Zone

By Ryan Fullmer

April 12, 2022

The Groan Zone

When it is time to make a group decision, do you get stuck in the Groan Zone? The Groan Zone is that awkward and sometimes frustrating space where a group struggles during the decision-making process.

San Kaner defines the Groan Zone in the Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making. He describes it as a phase where members of the group struggle to understand and make sense of all the different options. In this phase, team members advocate strongly for their position, get frustrated, talk over one another, and withdraw.

We've All Been There 

We have all experienced this in meetings, in fact it is a normal part of group decision-making. I have often seen teams fail to get through the Groan Zone when they try to sort through different solution options.

They aren’t sure which factors to consider and there are different opinions on which way to go. When teams get stuck in this zone, they may give up, pick a direction to get it over with, or find someone else to make the decision for them. These aren’t the best approaches to take. 

Analyze Options Canvas

Visualizing the options is a more powerful approach. A great tool for this is the Analyze Options Canvas. This canvas provides a simple and effective evaluation process that is collaborative and visual. The canvas helps the team work through options and make a thoughtful plan for moving forward.

Team members plot each solution option on the Analyze Options Canvas, according to impact and effort. Once everything is plotted, the team can step back and gain insights from where the solutions options are in relation to each other. The quadrants on the canvas help to guide the team to make choices about which solutions to start implementing.



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