On Wednesday night (NZST) I was privileged to join a video conference with other specialists in structured decision making to compare notes on delivering Decision Conferencing in a world that has gone virtual.

Larry Phillips (Emeritus Professor of Decision Sciences at the London School of Economics), Patrick Sharry (People + Decisions), Paul Gordon (CEO Catalyze APAC) and I (NZ Director Catalyze APAC) compared our experience – recent and past – to identify best practice Decision Conferencing in virtual environments. We discussed the effectiveness of our tools and techniques, as well as how we have maintained (and even built on!) stakeholder engagement and experience online.

We will share our collective thoughts and guidance with colleagues in the International Decision Conferencing Forum (IDCF). Our aim is to leverage our experience for the benefit of IDCF members and the decisions we support globally.

Virtual Decision Conferencing offers some unique value add.

  • We can now include experts from around the globe in Decision Conferences without the implications of international travel.
  • Limitations of evaluators’ availability – such as geographic and time constraints – can be addressed, which reduces barriers to participation.
  • Plenty of tips and tricks have been identified (and some relearnt!) to help us maximise the effectiveness and value participants gain from the Decision Conference process and experience, especially in the virtual environment.

In developing our approach, we looked at what we could learn from the switch to virtual delivery across a number of different domains and forums globally. Of course, we also added our own Kiwi ingenuity to get the job done!

What hasn’t changed throughout everything are the principles that underpin our work.

Outcomes focus
Process before content
Academically rigorous process
Active stakeholder participation
Intangible and tangible value

Additionally, the software tools developed by our sister firm in the UK (Catalyze Ltd) have continued to demonstrate their utility and flexibility.

Once we are back to face-to-face delivery, a key opportunity for Decision Conferencing is to integrate remote or virtual participants with those participating in person. This will require careful preparation and planning to ensure a seamless and even experience for all involved. But it open options for greater engagement with stakeholders who may be limited by geography or time. 

We’ll have more discussions in coming weeks and months, as we progress this work and other areas to support the future of Decision Conferencing.

I invite contributions and thoughts from others on these topics. Particularly if you have expertise in Decision Conferencing or integrated remote/face-to-face facilitation, or commentary as a participant of either – all thoughts welcomed. Please comment here, or send me a message to contribute to the discussion. Thanks in advance for your contributions. I look forward to sharing more of our insights in this area in the future.

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