Barriers to good decision making
Making decisions is viewed as one of the most important functions for any leader or manager of an organization, and the results they produce are the basis for judging their success. Too often, however, the quality of the decision (and by inference the decision process) is equated to that same outcome.
In our experience, it is common that an individual in the organization will be assigned responsbility for "strategy", or for answering a particularly complex question. What follows is a common sequence of events:
- Early in the process a "straw" solution is identified, and from that point on, most of the energy is spent selling that solution, rather than listening to other possible alternatives.
- Biased assessments that tend to support the solution are created, not because someone is trying to do the wrong thing, but because they are not displined to make balanced assessments
- Critical uncertainties are assumed away, or just not discussed at all
- Frequently the "straw" soluton has been described in terms of wishful outcomes, but not in terms of the actual actions and costs intended to achieve the outcome.
In their article, What You Don't Know About Making Decisions, Gavin and Roberto eloquently describe the disfunctional decision-making process that many will recognize:
"Most often, participants use an advocacy process, possibly the least productive way to get things done. They view decision making as a contest, arguing passionately for their preferred solutions, presenting information selectively, withholding relevant conflicting data so they can make a convincing case, and standing firm against opposition."
Consistent with Collabria philosophy, Gavin and Roberto also outline the elements of a process which systematically will produce superior results:
"Much more powerful is an inquiry process, in which people consider a variety of options and work together to discover the best solution. Moving from advocacy to inquiry requires careful attention to three critical factors: fostering constructive, rather than personal, conflict; making sure everyone knows that their viewpoints are given serious consideration even if they are not ultimately accepted; and knowing when to bring deliberations to a close."
At Collabria, our primary objective is to help your organization make high quality decisions. We accomplish this by creating an environment where inquiry and critical thinking leads to compelling alternatives, unbiased analysis, and shared learning.