Sometimes it is much easier to make a decision than it is to agree on a method of decision-making. Usually this is because the process of deciding how a decision will be made is not considered until the various parties are partly, or even fully, locked into their preferred option.
In an ideal situation, those involved in making a decision would spend a few minutes agreeing an approach prior to a meeting. The conversation could go a little like this:
“How about we each present our perspectives on the issue for a maximum of five minutes each? After that, we can share our views on the various options that have been presented. Once we go backwards and forwards a few times, an option that is acceptable to all of us may emerge. If it doesn’t, we’ll persevere. If it still doesn’t, we’ll close the meeting and come back tomorrow to reconsider.”
In a less than ideal scenario, the participants would seek a compromise solution.
This is less than ideal because invariably compromises produce outcomes that everyone is only half-happy about. A half-hearted commitment to the agreed outcome does not bode well for a successful implementation.
Two other common decision-making processes are worth reviewing.
The first is when, following the discussion, the most senior person has the ultimate say on which option the group will pursue. Although some people get a little nervous about this approach, it is a perfectly reasonable option as long as everyone knows in advance that this may be the ultimate outcome.
The second common approach is calling for a vote at the end of the discussion. This is rarely a good option. The only people happy about the outcome of a vote are those that win. Losers feel like losers, even if the vote was clear cut and legitimate.
If the loss can be attributed to some coalition building or unethical behaviour, then the “loss” can manifest itself in revenge seeking. Therefore, use voting only as a last resort.
One more small step in the next 24 hours
At your next decision-making meeting, ensure the first agenda item is: “How will we make this decision?”. This will force you to consider a range of options before you form and lock-in positions.
What impact could this action have on your leadership success?
How likely is it you could implement this action successfully?