IN BRIEF: Together We Decide: An Essential Guide for Making Good Group Decisions

By Craig Freshley. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2022. 304 pages. $26.95/hardcover; $9.99/eBook.

The author attended a military high school where he honed a competitive worldview. His evolution to a facilitator of cooperative group decisions included becoming a Quaker and embracing values such as inclusion, equity, and peace.

Freshley notes that his Quaker faith teaches that there is that of God in everyone and that therefore all group members should be welcome and heard. He adds that inclusivity offers practical benefits in addition to moral advantages. Facilitating group meetings and decisions in such a way that everyone participates leads to better outcomes based on varied perspectives.

Freshley advocates open-mindedness as a starting point for good group decisions, which could mean having the humility to alter one’s opinion. “Changing one’s mind for trivial or self-serving reasons may indicate weakness, but changing one’s mind in the face of new truths indicates growth and evolution,” he writes.

He points out structural problems that can create barriers to full participation. For example, if one intends for everyone in a town to have an equal opportunity to vote, one should locate the polling place in an area accessible to people who use mass transit and schedule long voting hours to accommodate varied work schedules as well as childcare needs.

Participating in group decisions gives members a sense of ownership and belonging, according to Freshley. Such a sense of group identity can change individuals’ lives for the better. He cites the example of his friend Melissa who quit using heroin with the support and sense of purpose that came from her membership in a motorcycle club, where she also volunteered as a photographer.

Readers seeking to apply Quaker values and encourage collaborative group decisions will find this volume informative and encouraging.

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