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Make Up Your Mind
Team decision-making methods for agile projects
by Johanna Rusly
The agile project management method uses continuous improvement and collaboration at every stage of a project, requiring more face-to-face meetings than other project management approaches. Team members work together closely and meet frequently, allowing for more opportunities to practice project team decision-making skills after generating a list of ideas during a brainstorming session.
Team decision-making methods
A project team can use various team decision-making methods to narrow down the results of a brainstorming session to a final decision. Two common methods are:
- The nominal group technique1 promotes the thoughts and ideas of all team members. Team members brainstorm ideas individually before sharing and discussing them with the rest of the group. Each team member estimates the amount of work required to implement each idea by assigning it a point value. The higher the points value, the more work involved.
For example, Table 1 lists possible user requirements for a library card system. Three team members have assigned each user requirement a points value based on the estimated work involved.
- The consensus method2 seeks resolutions that are satisfactory to all team members. Each idea is discussed, and a decision is reached only when each team member agrees on an idea. It can be used when deciding the estimated points value for each user requirement in agile projects. The team from the earlier example could use consensus decision making to determine the final estimated points value for each user requirement in Table 1.
Involving team members in the decision-making process increases participation, commitment and satisfaction of the entire project team to achieve the desired project goal.
- ASQ, "Nominal Group Technique," asq.org/learn-about-quality/idea-creation-tools/overview/nominal-group.html.
- "Consensus Decision-Making," en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making.
Johanna Rusly is product manager for a software company in Redwood City, CA. She has masters’ degrees in business administration and industrial engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Rusly is an ASQ-certified Six Sigma Black Belt, software quality engineer and quality auditor and Project Management Institute-certified project management professional.