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When Too Many Cooks And Spoiled Broths Aren’t Such A Bad Thing

In most traditionally structured organizations, you find decision-making responsibilities vested with a select few people. It’s either the managers or the top-level leaders who get to make the final call. They make the decisions, which ultimately filter down to each level in the company hierarchy.

Which explains why managing in these conditions can be highly stressful. The responsibility of the decisions weighs down on the shoulders of the individuals who make decisions. And, when mistakes happen, as they inevitably do, the blame falls squarely on the decision-maker. The traditional system forgets to acknowledge that everybody - no matter how accomplished - will make a mistake at some point, even when they’re acting in the best interests of the company.

Choosing Safety Over Innovation

Managers and C-suite leaders then have to function under very restrictive and high-pressure conditions, where they’re wary of every step they take and are forced to measure every decision they make. It often culminates in managers worrying more about, and even fearing, an eventual mistake that could throw them off-track and potentially even derail their careers.

Conventional decision-making environments and their rigidity tends to stifle innovation and creativity. And, why - because individuals vested with decision-making responsibilities tend to get too afraid of failing or taking a misstep. They resort to playing it safe instead of taking the risks that innovation requires.

In their minds, a tried-and-tested move is less likely to backfire than something new and experimental. But when you zoom-out to the larger picture, the company’s innovation levels stagnate and such “safety” could eventually cost the company dearly in today’s volatile market.

Share The Load, Stakeholders

An alternative approach is to create the space for shared decision making. Now, this doesn’t mean at every decision point you have to bring the whole company into the picture and take into consideration the opinions of all employees. Instead, distribute the decision making power among all the relevant stakeholders and encourage them to take the time to discuss, debate and arrive upon a decision that makes the most sense.

Once a group of people get together to make decisions, the responsibility for the decision isn’t upon the shoulders of any single person. Instead, the entire group is responsible. When a group agrees on something there’s a better chance of avoiding errors and minimizing risks.

You can pool the group’s experience and knowledge to draw the best conclusions. People then feel less fearful about voicing their opinions and  making unconventional decisions. This reduces pressure on leaders and it boosts innovation and creativity within the organization.

Change The Way You Approach Failed Decisions

Just because a decision was made by a group of people, instead of a single person - like before - it doesn’t mean there will be no failures. When mistakes happen, as they unavoidably do, the group of people who made the decision jointly, perceives their failure very differently.

Instead of focusing on the negatives and playing the blame game, people are more likely to think about how to correct and avoid such mistakes in the future. After all, when everyone played an equal role in making a decision that eventually went wrong, the burden of accepting the consequences gets spread out and it allows people to give and receive feedback more constructively.

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