Using a Decider

Using a Decider

Take action and tie-break key decisions
Reading Time
7 mins
What is this for? In any meeting or workshop using a "Decider" helps to make collaboration actionable and acts as a tie-breaker. Mindset and core principles Diverse collaboration is truly empowered when someone has permission to take multiple inputs and make actionable decisions. Facilitation is smoother and more


The core elements of the Decider role are:

  • They are there to make decisions that move things forward
  • They take input from the (diverse) group to help them make informed decisions
  • That person should have real-world accountability for those decisions


  • They do not need to gain group consensus or make "popular" decisions
  • They should not be the facilitator of the meeting or workshop
  • If someone else could veto their decisions, then that person should take the Decider role

This video talks about the role of a Decider in the context of a Design Sprint (a 1-week Design Thinking innovation process). The same role description and responsibilities of a "Decider" can be used for any meeting, workshop or decision-making process.

An excerpt from Principle Based Management™ Decision Rights: "Consider a shared office refrigerator. If no one is responsible for the refrigerator, it will likely be overused and rarely cleaned. If, in response to the dirty and unhygienic refrigerator, an overly complex protocol for authorizing its use is put in place that requires multiple approvals and adherence to precise rules and procedures, the refrigerator will likely be underused and will rarely need to be cleaned." Decisions are about balance. Enough authority and ownership to keep things moving forward. Enough humility to engage before taking action.

How to use a Decider

Step 1: Find (and ask) a decider

  • When you are about to embark on an initiative, workshop or important decision, think about:
    1. Who should be involved in the team → Read:
      Including Diverse Perspectives
    2. And who could act as the "Decider"
      • It should be the person who has ultimate accountability for the outcome
      • OR someone who has been officially delegated the responsibility
  • Ask that person if they can be involved and take on the Decider role
  • Brief them on the responsibilities of the role (you can send them this page!)

Step 2: Explain the Decider role to the team

When the team first comes together (whether it's for a 1 hour workshop or a 1 month project) explain:

  • What the Decider role is:
    • They are there to make decisions that move things forward
    • They will take input from the team and use it to help them make informed decisions
    • They are accountable for the final outcome, so they would be the decision-maker regardless, but they are involved in the process and hear opinions and perspectives from the team first hand
    • They do not need to gain group consensus or make "popular" decisions
    • But! They will explain their decisions to the team at each step
  • Who is taking that role (and why)

Step 3: Making a decision

In any meeting or workshop session the act of making decisions can be as the Decider:

  • listening to the group
  • consulting and asking questions
  • making a firm decision
  • Explaining the reasoning back to the group

If you are running a collaborative session on a whiteboard or digital collaboration tool (read

) here are some standard steps you can use:

  1. Gather information from the group (Read
    Note & Vote
    for more detailed steps)
    • The group participants write their input on stickies
    • image

  2. Collect votes from the group
    • Narrow down inputs by giving participants a set number of votes to place on stickies
    • e.g. you can use colored dots, or in-built voting features (e.g. in Mural)
    • image

  3. Decider "consults" the group (optional)
    • The decider can ask questions to the group (e.g. they can ask why people voted for particular things (if people are comfortable revealing their choices)
    • The Decider can reveal their thoughts and ask for feedback
    • Note: They do not have to "comply" with the group's opinions. Consultation is to help them make a more informed decision.
    • image

  4. Decider "super-vote"
    • The decider uses a large colored dot (or some visual marker) to place a super-vote on the final decision
    • image

5. Explain their reasoning

  • The Decider should always take a minute to explain their final choice back to the group
  • Not doing this risks alienating and distancing the group from the decision

Additional Resources

Recommended reading

Additional Resources
  • Mural - Digital collaboration tool
  • Miro - Another digital collaboration tool

Related workshop activities