Leading a group to a unified decision is like covering a fat little pig in grease and turning it loose for children catch; they’re hard to grab and squeal like their being tortured. Take Congress for example…

What are the most effective methods of making good decisions? Here are a few varieties I’ve observed:

  • Convenience – this is the easiest one

The bathroom is out of toilet paper and you go to the supply closet and get a refill.

  • Consensus- everyone agrees

Pure consensus with everyone agreeing is often difficult. Frequently, one component of the topic brings up others and soon your chasing lizards under rocks.  While consensus is sometimes necessary, often the desire for consensus has diminishing returns.

“I quit trying to be on the same page with my wife,” he said. “Now we just hope we’re in the same chapter.” Consensus is trying to get everyone on the same page. Maybe you just need them in the same chapter.

  • Command – my way or the highway

Every once in a while, a command decision has to be made. There’s just no time so the leader has to shoot from the hip. However, frequently command decisions are made by leaders because they don’t want the input of others, don’t care what anyone thinks and have determined they know best.  While sometimes this decision might actually be a right business decision, they are seldom the right cultural decision.  The more command decisions a leader makes, the more disengaged his or her people become.  They feel they are just puppets to do the leaders bidding and they grow more silent and disconnected.

  • Consultative – the leader asks for the opinions of others but in the end makes a decision

The leader must pull the final trigger on the decision because he or she is ultimately responsible. However, a consultative decision allows others to know their voice is heard.  When a leader listens to the opinions of others, it empowers their direct reports to feel valued.

  • Crazy  – makes no sense to anyone except the leader

A psychologist friend once told me that decisions always make sense to the person making them, no matter how bad the decision is. Everyone once in a while, leaders make decisions that make no sense to anyone. This seldom inspires the troops.

Do you have a process for decision making that you have found effective?  Would you mind sharing them?There are few things as frustrating as bad decision making.

Again, I  point to Congress as an example…