March 31, 2010
The Art of Good Decision Making

A good decision that everyone owns and supports is better than a great decision that is only owned by the boss.

Even when the boss's conviction about a desired direction or solution is warranted, it is often insufficient to ensure a high quality decision.

Why? Because a critical part of a high quality decision is its implementation. Commitment to high quality implementation often requires discretionary effort -- the kind of effort that is the outgrowth of real belief and sustained ownership of the desired direction.

This belief and ownership of a given outcome is generally an outgrowth of the quality of the decision-making process, especially the degree to which all participants have had the opportunity to contribute to the outcome.

Good decision making is often a case of pay me now or pay me later.

If sufficient time is not devoted to including all key implementers in the decision-making process, time will be saved on the front-end (i.e. the time required for processing everyone's contributions) -- but lost on the back-end (i.e. the time required to deal with lackluster implementation efforts.)

If the person in authority wants to exert true leadership, what's required is creating context for effective dialogue in which all ideas are heard and appreciated... and a solution is reached... and a decision made that builds on a distillation of the best of all available perspectives.

When authority is used to create and maintain a high quality decision making process, the result is usually a high quality solution and a high level of commitment to the outcome.


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at March 31, 2010 12:28 AM


I find the idea that individuals need to be committed to an idea interesting. Perhaps the level of commitment required depends upon the emotional maturity of the individual within the organization.

For example, if the organization has emotionally mature members, they may be sufficiently committed to the organization that commitment to any particular solution becomes secondary.

I once worked for an entrepreneur who repeatedly said he would rather have a 90% solution than no solution at all. He convinced people who worked for him that having a positive outcome for the group was more important than finding the optimum answer. We always had individuals who thought there were better solutions than the ones we implemented but they were willing to commit to the solution for the benefit of the organization.

Posted by: Calvin Bacon [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 1, 2010 01:12 PM

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