Organizational Developmental Consultant

Ten Techniques to Make Decisions: #7 Three For/Three Against

September 17, 2014

“Because all sides of an issue don’t get equal discussion time, the most vocal and opinionated people in my group always seem to get their way. Is there a technique that can help me alleviate this problem?”

#7  Three For/Three Against

What is Three For/Three Against?

Three For/Three Against is a technique for assuring that all sides of an issue are heard.

By design, Three For/Three Against asks for both the pros and the cons for every option or issue being discussed. This insures that any decisions to be made are based on all of the information available, not just the opinions of the most vocal contingents.

When to Use Three For/Three Against

  • When you want to be sure that all sides of an issue get equal “air time”
  • When you are planning to present an idea for approval

How to Use Three For/Three Against

1. Introduce the Three For/Three Against technique and describe how it will be used in your meeting. You might say, for example, “It is important that we hear all sides of all available options before we can decide the right option for us. In the past, we have not done a very good job of this. Today let’s try a new technique that will ensure that both sides of the issue are discussed. It’s called Three For/Three Against. When we discuss an issue, please note that for every three comments we hear in support of an option, we will also generate three against that option. These Three For and Three Against can be offered by one person or by any of you within the group. 3 is an arbitrary number. The point is to systematically hear both sides of the issue.”

NOTE: Your group may feel that always sticking to the number “3” is limiting and inappropriate. Be flexible. Remember that in the final analysis, the primary goal of this process is to elicit comments on both sides of an issue.

2. When an issue is being discussed, ask your group to provide three reasons why the issue should be supported, and then three reasons why it should not be supported. If you are discussing many options use the technique for each option.

3. After the discussion, ask your participants to decide upon the best option for the group.

In Summary:

Three For/Three Against is a technique for hearing all sides of an argument before making a decision.

1. Introduce the Three For/Three Against technique and describe how it will be used in your meeting.

2. Introduce the issue to be considered and ask your group to provide three reasons why a specific issue should be supported and three reasons why it shouldn’t be supported.

3. After the discussion, ask your participants to decide upon the best option for the group.

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You will find my book Mission Critical Meetings: 81 Practical Facilitation Techniques on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Mission-Critical-Meetings-Facilitation-Techniques/dp/1627870377/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408719109&sr=1-2&keywords=Mission+Critical+Meetings

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