If you care about a particular decision, it matters how the decision is made as well as who makes it. – Ellen Gottesdiener
One of the most powerful decisions that teams can make is how they will make their decisions. They decide how they will decide. And it’s an often over-looked step.
To experience how important this is, think about an election for a public official. Would you want to participate in an election which you know is not fair? Or to put it another way, would you want to vote in an election where you were not free to make your choice?
In that example, we understand how important it is to know how the decisions will be made. In addition, we know who is making the decision. In the example above, it`s the voters by a simple majority.
In teams, there are many ways that decisions can be made. One of the barriers to good decision making in teams can be confusion about how they will decide as well as who will decide.
By “who decides” the choice could be:
- A senior leader not on the team will decide: The team will make a recommendation that will be considered by the senior leader.
- The team leader decides: The team will discuss the options but the leader will make the final decision.
- The team decides by a majority vote: The team will take a simple vote and abide by the result.
- An expert will decide: One of the team members who is an expert will decide.
By “how will they decide”, the choice could be:
- Majority rules: They will take a vote and the majority result will prevail.
- Consensus: The team will discuss this until they can reach a group consensus – all the group members will agree with the result.
- Modified consensus: The group will discuss until all members either agree or can live with the result.
- Delegation: The group delegates a decision to a particular person either in the team or outside of it and agrees to live with the decision.
- Arbitrary: The team can live with either of two choices and so it decides based on some arbitrary rule.
So how should a team make the choice about the above options? Depends on the following factors:
- Time: If you involve more people, i.e. the whole team, then you need more time for consideration and discussion. If it is only one person, then it takes less time.
- The relative importance of the decision: The smaller the impact of the decision, the more it makes sense for the team to delegate the decision-making to an individual.
- Senior buy-in. Does the team need senior management to be involved? Are there others outside the team who at least need to be consulted?
The bottom line about team decision-making is this:
The more clarity the team has early on about how it will make its decisions, the more easily it will make them. Deciding how to decide is fundamental to good team decision-making.
How do your teams decide how to decide? Do you follow any of the suggestions in this blog or have you another method that is working well? Please add your experience in the comments section.