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My experience with tough decisions in cross-functional groups is that no one will listen to you, unless they know you have heard them.

When you walk into a room believing that you already understand all of the issues, and you’re ready to move forward, you are not going to be able to without taking the time to hear the opinions in the room.

I have been focusing more on using research to inspire and influence strategy. And when meetings come together to determine something as important as strategy, everyone in the room will have an opinion that needs to be heard. You might as well plan for it. Make time for the stakeholders to share their ideas. When I have time I’ll structure activities around this.

Simple worksheets help frame people’s thinking and get everyone to express their ideas in the same format (and as briefly as possible).

Paired exercises help people share their thoughts and organize them with another person– often finding common ground or places to compromise. Before sharing their priorities with the group.

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