Any group of people – and by extension any organisation, network or more complex form of such groups – needs to have a clear decision-making process – a ‘decision rule’ – in order to attain agreements that people genuinely subscribe to and that lead to effective implementation.
Good learning and knowledge management depends on it just as well as anything else.
Any group wishing to establish a clear decision rule is however confronted with a dilemma:
- Establishing a transparent decision-making process that guarantees that all people OR…
- Not really establishing a full proof decision-making system and rather relying on the trust that exists between people, or the trust that people bestow upon a decision-maker.
The second option is tempting: Not many people establish clear decision-making processes to start with (and clearly leaders could innovate in this respect); it feels like an overkill for many of them; and if people know each other what is there to fear, right? Besides, if there is that trust – whether in the group or in the leader – why bother having a transparent procedure?
Well, trust certainly helps and eases decisions in, but is it enough when:
- Turnover means new people could always come in and not guarantee the same level of trust among the decision-makers?
- External actors are (legitimately) wondering how decisions are being made?
- Any specific dispute could actually throw the trust off balance?
- People outside the decision-makers are also involved and concerned but they may not know about the tacit agreement to making decisions?
- There might be a risk in relying too much on a good and trusted leader?
For all these reasons, while trust is the truth and it’s an excellent basis for any group to move ahead with its decisions, defining a transparent decision rule is a guarantee that the group can crawl out of misunderstandings and disagreements in a fair and commonly accepted way.
Trust is the soil that lets the tree of cooperation grow, but a good decision rule or decision-making process is the tree support that lets it flourish until it has such strong roots that it doesn’t need support any longer.
What are you waiting for to install your decision rule?
Related blog posts:
- TRUST is the truth
- Of ‘healthy human systems’ beyond ‘the field’ and facilitating conversations that change the world: an interview with Sam Kaner and Nelli Noakes
- Development, between results and relationships
- We are a system, you cannot I-solate yourself, so surf and co-create the wave of our collective grace
- Enabling change: a manager’s choice (and a leader’s decision)
- Moving conversations up the trust ladder… and scale of influence