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We are NDSU Extension: Agreement (6/9/2015)

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts to highlight key information about our Extension organization’s culture.

In my years of Extension work, I don’t remember ever making a motion or taking a vote in a program team or Extension Leadership Team meeting, or in other Extension team work – even though one of Extension’s core values is agreement. Usually, important issues are discussed and debated then consensus is reached for the benefit of our organization. With dialogue and multiple perspectives, people usually can reach agreement when issues and problems arise.

As “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” suggests, we try to think win-win. How can two or more people or ideas be mutually beneficial? How can we discover ways to solve problems and build relationships at the same time? Discussions often lead to consensus. The final decision may not be exactly what you wanted, but the process led to a decision that hopefully everyone can support.

That discussion often includes another habit: seek first to understand, then to be understood. Really listen to others to try to understand where they’re coming from, why they hold that position and what they’re saying. Then clearly state your position.

Though the NDSU Extension Service values agreement, we don’t have a groupthink culture. Groupthink is when people who are opposed to the group’s ideas or decisions remain quiet, preferring to keep the peace rather than rock the boat. Instead, Extension values the perspectives of staff, stakeholders, targeted audiences and others, and lively discussion to reach the best agreement. We value debating, reaching an agreement and still supporting each other.

Next up: Coordination and integration

Becky Koch, Director, Agriculture Communication

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