The 9 Immutable Laws Of Decision Making

Years back I was tasked with developing a disaster recovery plan for my company.

They were a Fortune 10 company and my division didn't have a recovery plan in place.

I had never written a disaster recovery plan before.

Still, I was asked to put together a task force and build the plan.

My manager, a super-great guy, said he’d help me through the process.

I put a team together as requested.

The problem was that the team had no experience in putting a plan together either.

While they were subject matter experts at their respective areas, none of them had ever directly worked on a disaster recovery plan.

But as companies go, assigning task forces, building teams and group decisions are all things you’re supposed to do.

And so I did as I was instructed.

I gathered options for the team, I assigned tasks, I followed up, I met with vendors, attended classes.

You name it.  I did it.

The team shared the load as we researched the various options.

As we neared the first big milestone of the project I shared with my manager all of the options on the table and asked him - How does a group make a decision?

Note that at that point - I was the central repository for all information, knowledge and research.

My manager said something I'll never forget.

He said...

There's no such thing as a group decision.

I was like what?

What about democracy?

What about the team?

What about my co-workers and friends?

He went on to explain the dynamics of working in a group and how to move decisions forward within a group.

Being young and impressionable I did what he said.

And you know what?

He was right.

It worked.

I selected, proposed and sold the decision to the group.

Everyone had input.

Everyone voiced their opinion.

And we were successful.

But in the end the decision was mine.

Actually my managers.

But you get the point.

The final decision was already made before the final meeting.

It was based on consensus and agreement.

All the facts were laid out before everyone.

And everyone weighed in.

It was fair.

Still somehow it felt weird.

It worked.

But it still felt weird.

Group decision-making took some work getting used to.

It's important to understand the dynamics.

If you don't - be prepared for some poor decision-making and frustration.

Below are the 9 immutable laws of group decision making.


The 9 Immutable Laws Of Group Decision Making

1) There's no such thing as a group decision
It’s a myth to think that group can make a decision.  Human dynamics dictate that one person is the catalyst of the idea or direction needed.  That person is the decision maker.  Group think aligns to the leading thought.

2) There’s always someone in charge
Put people in a group and there’s always a leader.  It might not be the most vocal person in the group.  But there’s always a leader.

3) There's group input and opinion
To function as group you must provide the opportunity for people to provide input and give their opinion.  Nothing kills a group faster than withholding a person’s ability to have a voice and opinion about something.

4) Providing 2 options gives the feeling of selection
Options are how humans like to think.  A or B, this or that.  Moving decisions forward means solidifying ideas and directions down to a few key options that the group can choose from.

5) Consensus building is important for the individual and group
Moving the team forward requires consensus building individually as well as in groups.  This is how the group learns to work with each other and where valuable input in gained and shared.

6) You must sell the idea to the group
Once you’ve settled on your group options and built consensus the next step is to sell the idea.  Assuming everyone is just going to go along with option A or B is a flawed thought.  Once you’ve validated as a group that option A is the best ideas for example.  It’s time to sell it.  The only way to get to the finish line is if everyone is onboard.

7) Group agreement - You must get everyone or most everyone to agree
At final decision time you’ll need everyone to agree.  Well, most everyone.  There may a straggler out there.  If you’ve done your pre-work, the rest of the team will help you move that straggler past the finish line.  Sure some people won’t agree sometimes.  But it’s at that point where the group decision moves to a majority vote.  Heck, that’s America.

8) Group credit - You need to build good will
Once a decision is made it’s up to you and the group to promote your decision.  It’s up to you and the group to spread the word that the group made a decision and that it’s a good decision. This helps to build the confidence of management and other staff in the group and the decision.

9) Group support - Everyone needs to support the decision.
Don’t orphan people pre-during-post decision time. Typically once a decision is made the group will also be involved in implementing the decision.  Nothing thwarts a good decision more than Post Decision Syndrome.  Some people may doubt.  Some people may even abandon ship.  But it’s important to for the leader and group to continue to support the decision.  If it’s a bad decision, and this happens.  If it’s a bad decision then It’s up to the leader of the group to pull everyone back in and get things back on track and even coming up with a new decision if that’s what’s needed.

Working in groups and teams is probably the single biggest challenge of working at a company.

Your ability to work with others, get along with others, and make decisions with others dictates your success and your companies success.

I hope this helped to shed some light on the art of working on a team and group decision making.