I am a collaborative leader by nature and believe in the power in a unified voice. If someone from the outside comes in, I prefer a facilitator who is able to coax the answer out of the group as opposed to a consultant who tries to tell the group what the answer is. A good facilitator is like Michelangelo who would look at a block of marble and say, “There is an angel hidden within and it is my privilege as an artist to use my tools to release it from captivity.”

However, trying to get a decision by a group is sometimes akin to 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.

Recently, the leadership team in our company had the pleasure of a master business facilitator- David Ferran, a CEO of international scope and renown- facilitate part of our strategic business planning. To honor a man of his stature, we dressed in shorts, polos, and bare feet.  He dressed like that, so we just followed suit less.  We fished in our founder’s farm pond during breaks. We have a rough life.

He taught us a decision making tool called,  “The 4 , er, well, maybe 5 C’s of Decision Making.”

Here are the 4 C’s of Decision Making: You’ll understand his ambivalence about the 5th one in a minute.

      • Convenience – this is the easiest one.

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


      • Consensus- trying to get everyone to agree.

Trying to get everyone to agree on the same things is often nearly impossible. Frequently one component of the topic brings up a zillion others and soon your chasing lizards under rocks trying to catch the wily buggers.  While consensus is sometimes necessary, often the desire for consensus has diminishing returns.  He suggested you don’t announce it is a consensus decision up front- it will make the process more difficult.

I heard a man say, “I quit trying to be on the same page with my wife; 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 culture 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.  Command decisions diminish trust.


      • Consultative – the leader asks for the opinions of others but in the end makes a decision based on the variety of input.

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 where the bullets came from.  When a leader listens to the opinions of others, it empowers their direct reports to feel valued. As David pointed out, the consultative decision is the best for an organization; you will get a lot of feedback and, therefore, a lot of support.


      • Crazy Ass – now you understand his ambivalence about this being one of the C’s.

Crazy Ass and Command are often interchangeable.

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.

Take Congress for example…