5 dimensions for sustainable decisions – Radically different decision-making technique

New leadership begins with radically different decision-making technique

What the foundations of good decisions are, is often reflected too little and systematically. Yet the costs and well-being of a company depend on how decisions are made. It is no coincidence that decision-making technology is held in high esteem by innovative companies.

Let’s face it: previous decision-making techniques have resulted in losers. The majority wins; the rest have to give in. Or power has prevailed; people do not dare to decide otherwise. That is unsatisfactory. But are consensual decisions better? Those that are discussed endlessly in order to supposedly bring everyone along? Not really, either, because often the decision is ultimately made due to sheer fatigue and the whole thing is a fig leaf discussion. Is there a way beyond this?

Currently, we are experiencing that new functional mechanisms of teams are being brought into being:  Teams are supposed to act largely on their own responsibility and thus make their own decisions. If a different decision-making practice succeeds, immense advantages can be expected: greater speed and greater effectiveness and sustainability.

All of this requires a change in culture, namely a focus on cleaner information gathering and strictly regulated decision-making practices. What do such procedures look like, which are cultivated in a similar form in “self-organized” companies under names such as sociocracy or holocracy?

Dimension 1: The information round.

Is everything necessary known?

Making the right decisions means having enough information. The person responsible for a meeting where a decision is needed must have enough information available and obtain it before the meeting. This upstream dimension of the preparation of a decision is often lost, therefore the acceptance of decisions suffers and it is not a correct decision because it was not possible to choose from a set of possible actions.  The first phase of a decision is therefore only concerned with the level of whether there is enough information. This is systematically inquired and missing information is added, if necessary the meeting is postponed.

Dimension 2: The opinion round.

Opinions and changes of opinion are allowed.

In the next round, the moderator initiates the expression of opinion. Here the opinion may be expressed, but in turn and systematically, with the inclusion of each person. Is there no opinion? Fine – then this is the expression of opinion. As a rule, many opinions and sensitivities follow here. However, due to the systematic form of questioning, a change of opinion can also be announced.

Here an important paradigm shift takes place: It is not rewarded who “sticks” to his opinion and proves stubbornness and obstinacy – it is not called “standing his ground” for nothing. It’s about active listening and taking in new impulses and constantly adapting. Thus – always in turn – someone may well remark that the previous statement would have led to a change of opinion and a new idea. In this way, the opinion round already becomes a formative thinking round, where the matter is moved and developed. The systematics and care on the part of the moderator are decisive.

Dimension 3: It is not the boss who decides, but the moderator.

The session chair does not automatically take over the moderation, but this role is deliberately given to a person. A session chair is often perceived as a “chair”, a person (“superior person”) who will actually decide in the end anyway.

Therefore, this role – ideally, exceptions may exist – is outsourced to a moderator who holds this role. And no other. This can also be a superior person; but this person has to change hats very consciously and becomes no opinion as moderation. So that’s where real playfulness comes in. Therefore, as a rule and in some circumstances in the rotation, this will be someone who has only this role. And this role means conscious and disciplining guidance through the meeting, including systematic allocation of words to each person present.

It becomes obvious that such a meeting is very different from debating clubs, where more or less pro forma opinions are proclaimed and points of view are rolled over without stringent guidance towards a solution. All participants must be aware that such a procedural principle will also lead to speed and align their egos to avoid adding to the personal weight of prestige and importance due to the length of a meeting. In short: please leave egos outside.

Finally, the decision is also provoked by the moderator. This asks now whether a) now still serious doubts against the presentation exist and or it b) converts the decision question into own authority in such a way that it contains contents, which came from the discussion and modified the decision subject. In this way, acceptance is increased if something new has emerged from the round of opinion or information.

It is in the nature of human beings that a question as to whether there are “still” concerns is more likely to be answered in the negative than in the affirmative. So the decision-making technique presented here takes advantage of the potential to say yes and allow for something new.  This round is repeated until there are no more serious vetoes. If no decision can be found despite efforts, a decision can be postponed or delegated – to individuals or to a higher hierarchical level.

Dimension 4: Transformation toward responsible employees

Attention culture change: this decision-making technique requires practice and clear alignment with a vision of the company. Is this in place? Is there an understanding of what you want to achieve together? If there are doubts here, it is worthwhile to pay attention to a preceding stage here: the alignment to a vision, a common togetherness.

Because this is where a transformation takes place: The process presented requires that every employee, every team member comes out with his or her own opinion and commits to the alignment with the common whole.  This is no easy task when it was previously common culture to be able to hide away and grudgingly endure long meetings. It just has to be done (but it doesn’t help).

So it’s worth taking a step in culture change here, too, by openly addressing these competencies and presenting them as worth striving for. As a preliminary stage, so to speak, in order to then be able to ignite a dynamic decision-making regime.

Dimension 5: Careful documentation of preparatory and finishing work

So far, we have looked at what preparation is required and how the process works. However, this does not mean that a decision has been made, because it must be communicated and documented transparently. Visually attractive boards, analog or digital, such as a Trello board, are suitable for this purpose. Or OneNote. Meeting minutes and other Word files are not recommended. It is important to document what has been decided quickly and in a way that is transparent and easy to find for everyone. This is also not a matter of course. How often do employees and especially bosses no longer know what has been decided? Exactly.

With this approach, a completely new meeting management and, beyond that, a deep appreciation of the team becomes visible.  A decision-making culture transformed in this way leads, turn by turn, to a culture of sustainable and truly participative decisions that are consistently equipped with an innovation generator. But beware: all egos must be tied back for the new shared mindsets.

Ich helfe Firmen, die Risiken der Digitalisierung zu erkennen und zu meistern. Lösungen mit Ihnen zu finden, um ein attraktiver Arbeitgeber zu bleiben, sind meine Leidenschaft. Personal erwartet heute attraktive Arbeitsbedingungen, sei es Flexibiltät oder sei es Verantwortung tragen. Sei es, seine Vielfalt zeigen zu dürfen. Transfer von Wissen ist die Herausforderung, beim Halten und Gewinnen. Schauen Sie sich meine verschiedenen Beiträge und Plattformen an, um sich ein Bild zu machen von mir. Ich freue mich ein persönliches Kennenlernen!

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