Mindful Humans

Collective strategic decisions

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The saying goes, “Unity is strength”… and this can also apply when it comes time to make a strategic decision as a team. But, how can we ensure to achieve this in the most effective way?

No matter the decision to be made, no matter how small, you can think about it strategically. By taking a step back, you strive to consider how your decision brings you closer to your goals, rather than limiting yourself to just solving the problem at hand. You also seek to understand the repercussions of your decision to measure its chances of success.

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However, this requires personal discipline because it’s easy to jump to conclusions based on your impulses and personal biases when pressure is high and time is limited.

Making strategic decisions as a team demands even more rigorous discipline, as the chances of losing sight of what’s important are high. Indeed, team members have their own preconceived ideas, not to mention possibly diverging personal goals, and exchanges may go off track or drag on. Yet, being able to count on the diverse expertise and experiences of your team members allows leveraging collective intelligence to arrive at the best possible decisions, in addition to rallying these people around a common solution.

 

Barriers to strategic decision-making in a team

A thought process is considered strategic if it prioritizes the achievement of the team’s (and organization’s) objectives and takes into account the repercussions of decisions made. A strategically thinking team also remains aware of personal preferences and biases that could limit its ability to consider new solutions. It stays open to possibilities while being realistic.

Consequently, a team’s ability to make decisions based on strategic thinking is greatly limited if:

 

  • Team members do not prepare adequately before a meeting. Strategic thinking requires both time and perspective.
  • The information exchanged is either insufficient or, conversely, too detailed. The ability to arrive at fair conclusions would then be reduced.
  • The objectives of the meeting are not clear from the beginning. Discussions may then veer off into considerations not essential to decision-making.
  • Strategic objectives are not explicit. Decision-making would then not be optimal, for obvious reasons.
  • There are contradictory objectives among the participants, especially if they are kept secret.
  • Decision criteria are vague, which is often the case. It is better to take a step back to clarify them rather than let debates drag on in the absence of a common understanding.
  • Implications and risks are underestimated or poorly evaluated. Indeed, understanding these elements is essential to assess the chances of success of a decision.
  • The team does not debate. The purpose of making a decision as a team is to benefit from each member’s experiences and expertise. Without debate, you will not benefit from this leverage, and you might as well make the decision alone.
  • Debates veer off and lose sight of both the objectives and the expected results.
  • Participants do not trust each other, which could effectively muzzle some.

 

Addressing these barriers and fostering an environment of open communication, trust, and clear objectives can significantly improve the effectiveness of strategic decision-making in teams.

 

Essential Practices

Here are some essential practices to ensure that the team decision-making process remains strategic (and to make your meetings as effective as they are stimulating!):

 

Prepare Adequately

  • It goes without saying that the person presenting a case must be duly prepared and ready to facilitate exchanges until a decision is made.
  • The preparation of each participant is also essential, so that the meeting focuses on exchanges and decision-making rather than on information transmission.
  • Pertinent information is communicated well in advance to give participants time to review and reflect on it.

 

Clarify the Meeting’s Objective from the Start

  • If it’s clear to everyone that a decision must be made before the meeting ends, the discussion is less likely to derail. It will then be easier to achieve the desired outcomes.

 

Focus on the Essentials

  • In a group, exchanges can go in all sorts of directions, depending on the moods and interests of the participants. However, a specific element may be fascinating to address without necessarily shedding any light on the decision-making process.

    Therefore, consider the following rules:

    • Adopt a code of conduct for meetings and respect it (punctuality, respect, confidentiality, encouragement of idea debates, balanced participation, etc.).
    • Agree on decision criteria before debating. Indeed, people may agree that a decision needs to be made, but because the decision criteria are vague, debates last longer than necessary.
    • Regularly remind the objectives so that team members stay focused on the problem to be solved and on the essential information for decision-making.
    • Refocus discussions to evaluate all potential repercussions.
    • Remind everyone’s responsibility to direct their attention to the key factors of the ongoing decision-making.

 

Welcome Debates

  • They are essential to take advantage of collective intelligence. However, it’s important to prevent debates from dragging on, being monopolized by a few speakers, or turning into confrontations.

    • Keep an open mind; actively listen to others.
    • Avoid remaining silent when you can contribute.
    • Avoid intervening if it’s just to repeat what has already been said.
    • Keep the reflection at a strategic level.
    • Prevent debates from evolving into conflicts.
    • Accept to rally when the team has made a decision.

Manage Uncertainty

  • This is part of strategic thinking. Indeed, every decision is subject to a degree of uncertainty. The more lucid the team is on this matter, the better the probability of success of a decision can be assessed, and the better the precautions taken to increase the chances of success.

    • Do not limit yourself to assessing repercussions and risks; identify preventive measures to implement.
    • Follow up on progress effectively.
    • Adjust the decision before it’s too late.

 

When all these practices are in place, it remains to be seen if your decisions turn out to be the right ones! Regularly reviewing them as a team will allow you to evaluate your ability to make strategic and wise decisions. This way, you can agree on ways to improve, if necessary.

 

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