How a project manager uses Agree to ensure clear team decisions

Commissioned by the city of Zurich, Mirko Fischli was responsible for managing a digitization project with the "Nähwerk". The "Nähwerk" manufactures textile products of all kinds in series production: from cutting to ironing and sewing to packaging. 

The goal of the project was to develop a digital prototype that prevents errors in production and makes work processes more efficient. In terms of methodology, the team relied on design thinking, which involves working iteratively and thus regularly deciding how to proceed.

To make such decisions with the team efficiently and asynchronously, Mirko Fischli used Agree. The following decisions were made with Agree:

  1. Problem definition: Does everyone agree on the definition of the actual problem in order to develop ideas based on it?
  2. Approaches: Which three of the six ideas developed do we want to test as low-fidelity prototypes?
  3. Release of the final prototype: Which of the prototypes do we want to implement?

Deciding on the fundamentals of the project - as a team

For problem definition, the team evaluated several problems - and then used Agree to collectively decide which one to focus on.

"Using Agree at the very beginning turned out to be a doubly smart move," says Mirko Fischli, explaining how projects often fail because there is a lack of clarity about how to define the problem. 

"Getting an early, somewhat formal "Go!" from everyone not only ensures an efficient approach, but also shapes the team."

Important stakeholders rarely express themselves explicitly at the beginning and wait until they have settled into the project. Only during the interim presentations of solutions do the first objections arise. This is annoying, because valuable time is lost if the problem definition has to be changed again afterwards. "Getting an early, somewhat more formal "Go!" from everyone not only ensures an efficient approach, but also shapes the team." Fischli elaborates. With freshly thrown together project teams, trust must be built quickly and common ground found. Accordingly, such quick wins are useful in the project process to promote shared responsibility.

Mirko Fischli tests the prototype with a user

Together choose the best from 6 ideas

Each co-decision maker was able to use Agree to prioritize the solution approaches at the time they chose and at their own pace.

For the second time, Agree was consulted as a tool to reduce the multitude of solution ideas to three after a preliminary editorial work. This was done with decision type voting . A significant advantage compared to physical workshops for prioritizing solutions, is the individual thinking time: Each co-deciding person could use Agree to prioritize the solution approaches at the freely chosen time and at their own pace.

Voting on the different prototypes

Which prototype should be followed up?

For the third time, Agree was used, to select one of three prototypes to be developed further. For this the decision type voting was used again. Fischli carefully described and prepared the prototypes so that everyone had a good basis for decision.

Today, the project is completed. Mirko Fischli emphasizes that the use of Agree has been worthwhile. He sees the main advantages of Agree over Teams, Slack, Miro or e-mail in the decisiveness of the tool: Agree is about nothing but decisions. This is immediately clear to all team members when a decision request lands in their inbox. Moreover, should there be any ambiguity along the way, reference can always be made to the decisions that have been made. "Agree is a kind of decision log for teams," says Mirko Fischli.

"Agree is a kind of decision logbook for teams" says Mirko Fischli.
Published in
August 2023