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Involving others; the slower, but surer path to good decisions

A Fast Company blog post I wrote a while back, "Going with Your Gut is Not Enough," generated some interesting online and offline discussions with other entrepreneurs; some of whom differed with my position that making key decisions without the consultation of others may not be the best course of action.

One responder in particular noted that such instinctual decisions are good because they’re based on the person’s past experiences, trials and tribulations. Analyzing issues in great detail by soliciting thoughts of others, this person argued, is merely another way of "second guessing" oneself, and may actually derail what was up to that point a good plan.

I contend that it isn’t actually as much about the plan, rather is about getting the best ideas from the people tasked with executing the plan. Once the right people are in place and the best ideas are surfaced, those who need to execute believe in the plan and see every reason why that plan should succeed.

I find that, decisions are made more swiftly through the course of completing the plan which is typically the bulk of the time allotted for reaching the objective. So, while it took longer to create the plan, it was more efficient reaching the finish line. Net positive result.

 Decide slowly and collaboratively so that you have the best plan produced by those who  are tasked with execution. Then, let them execute.

Now I fully understand that the trade off in getting input from others may mean such initiatives take longer to get going, and time being of the essence on certain occasions, there’s little margin for error. I’ve been in similar situations here at Red Door Interactive with a host of issues ranging from submitting new business proposals to hiring a new employee to even securing a lease for new office space. But here’s the thing; if the required turnaround time is short, it’s often better to have more folks involved to meet the deadline than going it alone at a billion miles an hour. Critical tasks and data get missed using the latter approach, and often to the detriment of the final outcome.  So while the decision-making phase might be longer when you take a moment to call for backup, the execution process will shorten and the results will mostly likely be better.

This debate of whether or not to involve others speaks to a greater discussion over which management style works better; that of a benevolent dictator or one that’s more democratic in nature. The truth is there’s a time and place for both, and one tactic cannot be used for every situation. More often than not, however, getting others involved not only makes for a happier workplace, but a more effective and efficient one.

With all this being said, I don’t mean to accuse entrepreneurs of selfishly trying to shield folks out of the decision making process. It’s often the result of them having to make every single decision when they started their company because they wore multiple – if not every single – hat. However, if an organization is to truly grow and prosper beyond the physical and mental capabilities of its creator, it must do so because others are as passionate, creative and strategic about its future. The only way that’s going to happen is if the entire team has a say and a vested interest in the company’s success.

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  • Dan Rockwell


    Safety and wisdom in numbers is usually true. It's the usually thats the killer. When should we unusually go it alone rather than getting input from others?

    We can't say its the depth of passion we feel. We can't say it's safe to rule others out if I feel really really really strongly about what we should do. Passionate convinced people are dangerous.

    On the other hand. The examples you give aren't about mission and vision but execution. Perhaps there's the line. Go with your passion when it comes to mission and vision. Rely on others when it comes to execution.

    Thanks for your post

    Leadership Freak
    Dan Rockwell
    Recent Blog: Three ways to play fair at office politics.

  • John Ruzicka

    Great point, Reid. I think it's important to get buy-in from those who will execute the plan, since it gives them a sense of ownership in the process. There remains a fine line between allowing for sharing of ideas and "too many cooks in the kitchen," which I've seen in some smaller businesses.

    John R.
    Twitter: @johnruzicka