2018.05.09 How do you make decisions?

Making decisions, the fifth concept in the illustration, is a special aspect of leadership. It can be done from a consensual approach or by giving edicts.

From Harvard Business Review:

"We often assume that the most egalitarian cultures in the world are also the most consensual, and that the most hierarchical ones are those where the boss makes top-down decisions. That’s not always the case. The Japanese are strongly hierarchical but have one of the most consensual cultures in the world. Germans are more hierarchical than Americans but also more likely to make decisions through group consensus. This scale explores differences between building group agreement and relying on one person (usually the boss) to make decisions."

When it comes to Denmark and USA, the assumptions are, however, correct. Just as USA is more hierarchical than Denmark when it comes to leadership, American managers often present a decision in a top-down fashion where Danes appreciate an opportunity to give their input to the process.

Many American companies have run into problems when they have tried to turn their organizations towards agile development because that requires a high degree of decision delegation and neither managers nor employees have been prepared for that transition.

Erin Meyer talks about decisions with "D" or "d" in this article covering the whole spectrum of decision making preferences. The slowly reached "Decision" is one we are all behind and thus it can implement pretty easily. This is compared to the "decision" made faster but subject to many revisions as all the contingencies that were not discussed in the process come to light.

In this video, Carlos Ghosn of Nissan-Renault talked about the same difference in decision making style and how easily big changes could be implemented when people were already on board.

I very much like his observation that, after all, the goal is to implement the change, not just to make a decision to do so.

Consensus seeking managers working in a "top-down environment" may rub people the wrong way because their "indecisiveness" is mistaken for uncertainty about where they want to go or lack of competence and that doesn't breed general trust.

Top-down managers in an consensus oriented culture may be seen as bossy, egocentric, lacking in interpersonal competency, and that doesn't breed general trust, either.

This short video talks about the top-down vs consensual decision making compared to the hierarchical vs egalitarian management style for at selection of countries.