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Senior Correspondent

Solve the Frustration of Team Decision-Making

Solve the Frustration of Team Decision-Making

Can we please make a decision and move on?

Ineffective teams don’t know how to make consensus decisions.

Margaret Thatcher complained of consensus: “To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.”

Seven negatives of consensus decision-making:

  1. Lots of talk – Nothing gets done.
  2. Talkers and power players dominate weak, passive or quiet members.
  3. One negative person holds the team hostage. Some people feel most powerful when they disagree.
  4. Personal agendas distract from real issues.
  5. Decisions that address every concern feel lukewarm at best.
  6. Ambiguous accountability – If things fall through the cracks, who is held accountable?
  7. Turbulent environments call for rapid response.

Five positives of consensus decision-making:

  1. Engagement
  2. Silo breaking
  3. Diverse perspectives provide broad understanding. You won’t say, “Oh! We didn’t think of that.”
  4. Achieve the greatest benefit for the greatest number of stakeholders.
  5. Minimize surprises.

Five reasons consensus matters:

  1. Multiple entities, divisions or departments are impacted.
  2. Authority is low. Distrust is high.
  3. Radical change disrupts large groups.
  4. Financial responsibility runs high.
  5. Buy-in is necessary.

Seven necessities:

  1. Diversity – Include stakeholders who are touched by the problem and those closest to the action.
  2. Shared information
  3. Transparency
  4. Trust
  5. Accountability
  6. Responsibility
  7. Flexibility

Four tips:

  1. After discussion, ask, “Is there anything preventing us from making a decision right now?"
  2. Open eyes and expand perspectives by sending participants into each other’s areas.
  3. Assign homework and research.
  4. Ask participants to defend each other's suggestions.

How much consensus is enough? Don’t beat dead horses. Determine how much consensus is enough.

Perfect consensus is a myth. Shoot for informed consent.

What are you warnings and suggestions concerning consensus decision-making?

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