Saturday, August 25, 2007


Enterprise Architecture: Measuring Buy-in

The notion of buy-in (aka consensus) and the ability to measure it is difficult. Unanimity gives you consensus. Does unanimity minus one give you consensus? How about unanimity minus two? At what percentage do you draw the line?

Consensus at it is commonly understood is an inherently vague concept (there is no line). Unanimity minus one can be consensus or not depending on informal criteria such as whether the holdout is a respected authority or a known crackpot, whether people are for something or just against something else, or whether the objections are major or minor.

Sometimes we insist on a precise measurement, as in democratic elections. Other times we cling to the vagueness of consensus and trust a chairperson to make subjective, possibly inconsistent evaluations of group consensus.

Building consensus is just that, reaching common and unanimous agreement on how to proceed. It does require an effort on everyone's part to reach consensus (aka participation). The approach is not to persuade people to change their votes, but to change the proposal to allow everyone to deem it acceptable. Again, the point is not to argue for the "best" approach, but to determine an approach all find acceptable...

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