Why would you ask the group to vote or give their opinion on any topic?
There are probably three good reasons here:
- Get buy-in / engagement on a decision that has to be made.
- Solicit useful knowledge/ideas for the solution.
- Understand what members want so you can serve them better.
If the answer is 1) you need to present options on ‘how’ to deliver the solution rather than whether they like the choice. This allows people to feel engaged and listened to while ensuring you’re heading in the right direction. Never ask people if they approve of a decision you’ve already made. Ask them how they would like to do it.
If the answer is 2) you need to ask people for expertise to present possible options. i.e. how do we best tackle this problem? What sectors/trends are on the rise? What data do we have to prove that? You need to get the information locked up in your members’ heads into the discussion. That means removing the social and technological barriers that prevent that. Fear of being wrong is a big problem here.
If the answer is 3) you need to use surveys and provide a place for continuous open dialogue in the group. Be careful of the vocal minority. Use data to validate what groups of members are saying. Take the best ideas and put them into a survey of the entire group to see how most people feel. Use SurveyMonkey and force members to rank their preferences, not just select those that aren’t important.
Asking for the group’s opinion on a wide range of things is a good idea. Just be clear about why you’re doing it. Is it for buy-in, to gain expertise, or to identify broader preferences?