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Marshall Scott Poole’s Multiple Sequences Model

By PJ STEVENS Published 15th Apr 2015
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Marshall Scott Poole’s Multiple Sequences model proposes that different groups use predictable sequences during the decision making process.

Poole's theory suggests that there are different variables when it comes to the decision making process and the sequences included in this. The main idea is that discussions are not characterised by block phases, but by different tracks that may need interventions.

The four main activity tracks are described as follows: in the first phase, named the task track, the group needs to find the process which it will use to accomplish the goals. The process or processes can be very different, and involve designing solutions, as well as analysing problems, and considering other similar tasks.

The second track, known as the relation track, deals with the relationships between group members. Groups that have effective relationships will typically benefit and have better results than those with communication problems which may hinder progress.

The topic track is where you need to take into account the issues that might appear in the future, in order to make sure that you can solve any problems that arise in the behavior of the group.

The breakpoints phase, which is also the last phase, studies the breakpoints that tend to occur when a group switches between tasks. Some good examples of breakpoints are conversation shifts, postponement and adjournment. These may need to be treated carefully and possibly eliminated.

Poole's Multiple Sequences is a very useful model to consider and discuss before a period of change to help a team to anticipate problems in a process. The main point of this approach is that instead of looking at progress in blocks, as many models do, it presents the variables as tracks may run along side by side over the course of a project.

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