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What is the Water Cooler Test?

If a group makes a decision during a meeting and everyone says that they support the decision, but then when they leave the room they talk privately about how they think the decision is flawed, that decision is said to have failed “the water cooler test”.

Meeting facilitators work to help everyone get all their opinions and concerns out during the meeting. The group is asked to have the discussion in the room—not later “around the water cooler”—then leave the meeting committed to supporting that decision.

A decision made in a meeting that fails the water cooler test will often run into implementation challenges. The people who were supposed to support the decision are not fully committed, so may delay or even undermine actions taken based on the decision.

Thanks to Tammy Adams Spann and David Spann for sharing this concept.

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