When approaching any decision, it's important for individuals to maintain the healthy state of openness called for by WYSINWYG (what you see is never what you get). Remember that there is always more going on than simply meets the eye. Calling on all the skills, strengths and resources that are accessible, though not immediately apparent will produce vastly better results. Secondly, individuals should strive for balance in both their data gathering and their decision-making. Many factors can influence a final decision, not the least of which is emotion. Strong emotion easily clouds the process and can result in extreme solutions. Sometimes extreme measures will be called for, but generally they are not. Decisions that weigh both objective and subjective data and strike an effective balance are likely to succeed. Finally: keep it simple. Begin with what you know. Reduce the complex to the direct. Set clear goals and implement straightforward plans. Whether making decisions as an individual or as a team, the three principles provide the foundation for creating effective solutions.
In order to make a decision we first gather information and then make judgements about that information. This is true whether we are making personal or team decisions. But team decision-making is definitely more complex. For one thing, seven people on a team will initially bring seven different points of view as well as senses of priority, commitment and urgency. These and other complexities require that teams pay careful attention to the three-part structure of a team decision.
Let's start with the actual decision point. A wide range of data has been gathered and both objectively and subjectively analyzed. It's time to choose, and you do. Is that it? Has the decision been reached? Can we go home now? Not yet.
The decision point is really just the burger on the bun. It's literally sandwiched between two equally important elements in the process of reaching a final decision. The decision point is always preceded by your first impressions. These impressions derive from your data gathering and from your previous experience with the subject. Often first impressions will determine the outcome of your final decision because they'll shape how you assemble and analyze the information to begin with. Next element in the anatomy of a decision is the decision point itself and is produced as the result of active discussion. This is the culminating point of your efforts. It may occur entirely in your own mind for a personal decision or in a team's primary forum, the meeting. Meetings are an incredibly dynamic forum and reflect WYSINWYG and Chaos at their utmost. They are WYSINWYG in that more is always going on than meets the eye and chaotic in that there are profound behavioral paradigms active just out of sight. The final element of the anatomy is second thoughts. Second thoughts refer to the ideas, attitudes and opinions that you have following the decision point. Just because you've reached a decision doesn't mean you'll stick to it. Second thoughts run from, "I wish I'd said?" to the notorious "buyer's remorse." The extent to which first impressions and active discussion are effectively managed will determine the magnitude of second thoughts. The good news is that each of these three elements can be managed. When the underlying paradigms are recognized and employed as decision-making assets, extraordinary results will follow.
George Ebert is the President of Trinity River Seminars and Consulting, a firm specializing in the custom design and delivery of team building, personal growth and ethical development programs. Mr. Ebert is a highly sought after speaker, educator and consultant with over thirty years experience in both the public and private sectors. He has presented widely throughout the Unites States. He is the author of the management cult classic, Climbing From the Fifth Station: A guide to building teams that work!