The Six Sigma quality methodology almost always requires a Black Belt or Green Belt to lead a team in solving a problem. When teams members interact – and no matter how well the Black or Green Belt can facilitate – opinions of the individual team members will inevitably differ and the team may end up deadlocked, compromising the team’s forward progress.
So what do you do? Throw up your hands? Yell at the most difficult person? Call a break? I’m sure we’ve all felt like doing all of these things (at the same time!), but really there is a better way. It’s called consensus building, and it is needed to help the team determine the relative importance of topics, issues or problems. Consensus is a technique that allows everyone on the team to equally play an active role in determining the group’s final decision.
It can be used anytime a team needs to choose a course of action from a list of possible actions. So, for instance, you may need the team to decided which solution should be pursued from a list of brainstormed options. Or you might want your quality council to select which of three projects should be undertaken first. Obviously, a Quality function deployment or Pugh matrix would also be useful in these situations, but would take longer to perform and your decision may not require that much detail.
Consensus building is a simple concept, producing a team agreement at the conclusion. Here are the major steps involved in consensus building.
Voting is used when a team just can’t make it to consensus. Having brainstormed, affinitized and come to agreement on the options available, you then begin the fall-back process of voting.