Decision Process

Before making a decision, first decide on how to decide.

We often tend to forget many of the tools or frameworks available to us when we have to make decisions. We end up procrastinating decisions just because we haven’t defined what the decision making process is.

I was recently reminded of this point as I sat in a meeting where no one could reach a decision because it had to be consensual, so everyone ended up discussing small and irrelevant details that added absolutely nothing to the topic at hand and consensus was reached only after a lengthy and mostly unproductive discussion. Have you ever been on a meeting like this?

After the meeting I had to ask myself why was it necessary for the decision to be consensual? Was it that relevant for everyone involved? I don’t think so. Was there any other way to make a decision and move on? I believe there was.

Situations like this often happen because there is no clear understanding about how decisions are to be made. So, before you have to make a decision first decide on how you’re going to decide. There are basically four ways to make a decision:

Commanding – Having all the information you need you make the decision yourself and communicate what it is. You find this decision making process in law enforcement and in the military, for instance.

Consulting – You need additional information so you consult whomever you need to get it. After having all the information the responsibility of making the decision is still yours and yours alone.

Consensus – The topic is relevant to everyone involved so everyone has to agree before moving forward. This model is usually the most time consuming of the four.

Voting – The quintessential democratic method. Everyone votes on the topic and a decision is reached based on the ballot (there are many ways to tally the votes).


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