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A Method of Group Decision Making
By William J. Byron, SJ
Adapted from Jesuit Saturdays: Sharing the Ignatian Spirit with Friends and Colleagues The Jesuit procedure would have each participant in the group decision-making process ask the following questions: How do I feel about the issue? What is the origin of that particular feeling? Is it from God, or not from God? The “not from God” feelings can be from self (from ignorance, obstinacy, indigestion), from other persons (whose position on this particular issue may be “not from God”), or from diabolical sources. Four Prerequisites

To sort out all the elements is a subtle exercise. To discern or decide well, a person must be 1. ready to move in any direction that God wants, therefore radically free; 2. open to sharing all that God has given him or her, therefore radically generous; 3. willing to suffer if God’s will requires it, therefore radically patient; 4. questing for union with God in prayer, therefore radically spiritual. Jesuits would agree with former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn’s famous remark: “When two people always agree about everything, it just goes to show that one of them is doing all the thinking!” We respect that. We also know that if union is to be achieved, it can only come out of difference. The point of the process I am outlining here is to provide a method for moving from difference to consensus amicably and prayerfully. Free to Express Differences

Central to this method is the isolation of pros from cons, and the uninhibited expression of arguments, both pro and con, by each participant. Each is expected to disclose how he or she thinks (judges) the situation to be. An inclination “pro” will not hold up if it rests on inaccurate data. Is it true or false? is a question of intelligence or understanding. Each participant is also to disclose how he or she feels about each side of the issue. Is it good or bad? is very much a question of feeling. And this is where...
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