Options in Decision Making (Cont.)

Decisions can be broken up into three types

1. Concentrated

Decisions made by individuals without any consultation with other people. A problem needed to be addressed. The individual had the resources and responsibility to make a decision to address the problem and therefore made a decision. The decision was concentrated because it was focused on one individual getting the necessary information and then deciding.

2. Consultative

These tended to be decisions where the person responsible for making the decision is aware that they do not have all the information to make a proper decision and so consults with those who could provide more information. Consultative decisions usually affect a larger group of people. It is believed that people who were impacted by a decision generally have information necessary to make a good decisions.

3. Consensus

Consensus was defined as ‘everyone agreeing on a certain course of action.’ This could range from whole-hearted agreement to ‘I will support the decision even though I have serious reservations’ – in other words, I will choose to support the majority. Consensus decisions tend to take a long time and are generally arrived at after a series of meetings and informal discussions. This method is set aside for decisions that needed broad- based support if they were to have any chance of being implemented well, like program changes and new projects.

At project planning and management team meetings it is a recommended process to first collectively identify the kinds of decisions that would be used for the various different agenda items. You can divide agenda items into:

a) Information – informing people of actions taken, progress
reports or information obtained from research, and of concentrated decisions taken.

b) Consultation – where issues were discussed so the relevant decision makers could gather all the information to make the best decision possible.

c) Discussion – the time to share perspectives and the process of reaching consensus on some of the outstanding issues. Never expect to reach consensus in a single meeting on an issue that would significantly impact the project or either organization. People need to go away and reconsider their perspective in light and consideration of what they have heard from others or their team.

Always bear in mind that you value the partnership or collaborative relationship as much as the goals you are pursuing, and therefore avoiding and competing are not options. Aim for consensus but if you can’t reach that, you can consider a compromise in the interests of maintaining the relationship.

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