Saturday, January 03, 2009

Decision Making Styles

Making decisions is probably one of the most important activities of any leader. There are plenty of different ways to make decisions. I like the way how it has been described in Peter Senge's book "The Dance of Change":
  • Telling: Make a decision and just tell the team.
  • Selling: Make a decision, explain why you made that decision, then tell them to do it.
  • Testing: Identify a problem, present your solution and ask for the team's comments.
  • Consulting: Identify the problem, tell them you don't have a solution and ask them for their suggestions.
  • Cocreating: Identify the problem, then come to a decision as a team.
While cocreating probably creates the most buy-in from your team, you may have to make decisions using one of the other styles occasionally. For instance you may have become the team leader only recently and a problem is so pressing that any further delay creates a lot of additional damage. Then it might be right to just make a decision, explain it and then have the team execute it (Selling).

One of the factors that may influence the style you want to use is maturity of the team. In very mature and homogeneous teams consulting or cocreating might be very fast approaches. On other teams different factions may simply not converge even if you give the team a generous time frame.

Again, it pays of to adapt to the situation at hand. The more of these styles you can easily work the easier it will be to select the most appropriate one, and still get decisions made both fast and properly.
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