Develop a SART
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Facilitate Meetings

Decisionmaking Strategies

Make sure to include time for all SART members to discuss the impact of potential decisions on their individual organizations before making any decisions. Also consider the likely outcomes, possible outcomes, and unintended consequences of each decision and keep in mind the following questions:

  • What are the purposes of the recommendation?
  • Why should it be adopted?
  • What will change in both the immediate future and long term?
  • How would the SART know if the policy had the intended impact?
  • Who or what is the target of the policy?
  • Is the public as a whole affected? How? Directly or indirectly?
  • Who else will the policy affect?
  • Who disagrees with the decision and why?
  • Who supports the decision and why?

Read on for information about—

The Decisionmaking Process

The Right Tool

Decision Matrix for Agency Leaders Helps you visualize decision choices by charting possible solutions and the criteria to measure them.

Many steps are involved in the decisionmaking process, some of which are discussed below:6

  • Define the problem: How long has the problem existed? How frequently does it occur? Who is affected? Who is involved?
  • Determine the cause: Find the reason behind the present situation and the desired outcome.
  • Gather information: Collect data. It can come from many sources—victim surveys, statistics, community needs assessments, case reviews, journal articles, or anecdotal accounts.
  • See the big picture: It is important to look at how decisions will affect your SART and its responses as a whole. The decisionmaking process should honor how decisions affect the entire team including likely outcomes, possible outcomes, unintended consequences, and possible solutions.
  • Consider all possible solutions: When weighing options, you need to be far-sighted. A decision that appears to be a simple yes or no choice may actually have more solutions underneath the surface.
  • Evaluate the possibilities: Consider asking the following questions:
    • How much time and effort will each option take?
    • What can we afford to do, financially? Politically?
    • What options should we not pursue?
    • Are we missing important information?
    • What is the best option for us at this time?
  • Decide not to decide: There may be times when you will want to put off making a decision or to avoid it entirely. When faced with a difficult choice and after careful deliberation, a decision not to decide can sometimes be the way to go (e.g., it may be better to wait until the team has more information or until members have more time to consider the recommendation further).

Reaching a Decision

Reach decisions by consensus or through voting:7

  • Consensus: In a consensus, the entire team agrees on a certain course of action. In a hard consensus, everyone outwardly agrees. In a soft consensus, everyone may not agree, but team members don't openly object. Soft consensus is common, especially when the decision is not a critical one.
  • Voting: If you decide to vote on an issue, you'll have to determine what the minimum vote will be:
    • The greatest number of votes, even if it is less than half of the total.
    • A simple majority—a recommendation must receive more than half of the votes.
    • Two-thirds or more of the vote.

Don't feel tied to one or the other ways to reach a decision. You can, for example, first try to reach a hard consensus. If that is unsuccessful, then the team can vote or study the issue further.