Change is easy when everyone has the exact same vision and ideas. Ok, now that you have finished chuckling at the absurdity of that comment, let’s talk about reality. Scott Keller and Colin Price, consultants at McKinsey & Company and authors of Beyond Performance, describe a common pitfall most organizations face during large change initiatives – “Apparent consensus fades when challenged.” Or, how I often hear it in my work, “that’s not what I thought we agreed to do.”
Who can make a decision and when a decision has been made are questions that need to be answered if an organization wants to successfully implement a change and keep it going. When the answers are murky or accountabilities are unclear confusion reigns and energy is sapped.
As George Bush so aptly highlighted in the title to my blog today, most of us want to be the decider or believe we should be the decider. This human tendency needs to be addressed by leaders during change efforts. In our Art of Supervision leadership program we identify six separate decision-making styles and work with leaders to highlight the importance of clearly identifying which style they are using and why. The same styles can be used by leaders of change and implementation teams. The six styles include:
- Executive decision – a single senior leader makes the decision on their own.
- Consultative decision – a single leader makes the decision after gathering input from others.
- Expert decision – decision-making accountability is designated to a subject-matter expert.
- Majority decision – the decision is made by the group based on a majority rules criteria.
- Participative decision – the decision is made by a subgroup that has been assigned the responsibility for the final decision.
- Consensus decision – the decision is made only after everyone involved agrees to the decision and commits to supporting it.
Each style has its advantages and disadvantages and there is no one right style of decision making, The important capacity for successful change is to purposely choose a style and clearly communicate which style is being used in which activities.
Don’t let this be the lasting image of your important change effort.