The Dangers of Team Decision Making

Yes, that's a provocative title but I see it over and over again. Here's what happens:

We start working with a group of very nice, very smart and very motivated leaders. At some point we demonstrate the benefits of more collaboration, of fewer silos. And then, with the best of intentions, these very bright people stop making decisions. They put all the decisions onto the back of the team, making everything dependent on team consensus. 

What happens next? Organization effectiveness grinds to a halt. Everything takes longer to decide, and some issues just don't get decided because there it is nuanced or the answer isn't clear or everyone can't be in the room to decide.

And no one calls it out. No one says, "hey, what's happening here?" No, things just take longer.

It doesn't have to be that way. There are many methods for decision making, team consensus is just one. And it should only be used for the most important decisions, the strategic decisions where everyone must buy-in to the answer. But for everything else, make another choice. Have an expert decide - have a subgroup decide - have the boss decide. Or just vote and move on.

If the decisions are significant, communicate them and the intentions behind them. But don't stop making them. You want the pendulum to swing to the correct spot, not to get stuck on one end of the decision making continuum.