• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

How am I (we) supposed to decide?

Decision making is not an easy science.  It is complex in part because it relies on a number of different factors both external and internal.  We need to differentiate as well between what is an individual and what is a group decision.group_decision2

There are a host of articles and books on the subject.  We could summarize several possible approaches in the following categories: avoidance; analytical; intuitive; and chance. The avoidance approach is taken when there is insufficient information to be able to make a reasoned decision.  The analytical approach works from facts in a logical process.  The intuitive approach relies more on strong feelings and a godly ‘hunch’.  The chance approach is more impulse decision making that does not rely on thought or analysis.

Call the approaches what you would like. The real issue is that each of us has a default approach to decision making which makes us suspicious or distrustful of all other approaches.  Add to any of the above approaches a ‘congregationalist’ process for a group decision making and misunderstanding is bound to arise.

A couple of takeaways at this point:

  • Any group needs to understand the various approaches available to them in a decision making process.  Group members need to consider what approach(es) might serve them best in being able to make a sound decision in light of all the variables and how their own default approach impacts a team approach.
  • Learn to differentiate between decisions that need everyone’s approval and those that call just for each person’s input.  Being heard is as important as holding a vote.
  • Proactively create a culture that nurtures trust.  One thing that comes through in a number of articles on this subject is the importance of environment, context or culture in the process of decision making.  Mistrust undermines an effective process.  Trust facilitates good decision making processes.   How?  That’s for another blog post.

7 Responses

  1. Have you heard of the 7 colored hats desicion making process? We use it on our team & like it a lot because it gives voice to all of those & then one person (a leader/blue hat) Makes a final desicion based on all of the info collected (or in a non heirarchical society, the group comes to a consensus based on all of the collected styles & reflections).

    • Yes, I have heard of ‘6 Thinking Hats’. It’s a way to help in processing a topic or issue. It’s another way of helping, though the outcome at the end (‘make a final decsion based on all info collected’) is, as you said, another option or process. Thanks for sharing this and for the link in your follow up comment.

  2. Woops. Make that “The 6 Thinking Hats” … Here is a link to more info: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_07.htm

  3. Dear David,

    There are some other factors which come into decision making. One of them is avoiding making a decision even when there is lot’s of information available. Perhaps a better name is Postponement. These people don’t like to make decisions and postpone making them. Often there are very negative consequences because the decision was not made in a timely manner when there was still sufficient time to act or to devise and implement a plan. Timely decision making and planning go hand in hand.

    In Jesus love, Gary

    • I was trying to identify ‘positive’ stances in decision making. I guess ‘postponement’ could be in the sense you described. I hope people see that there is not just one ‘right’ way to make decisions.

  4. It is helpful to acknowledge our default approach to decision making. This kind of healthy self-awareness helps us avoid a judgemental attitude towards those who make decisions differently.

    “Being heard is as important as holding a vote.” A leader who provides feedback to those giving input helps them to feel heard and lessens their frustration when a decision is made that they wouldn’t choose.

  5. The ‘listening’ well to others provides the context one needs to give feedback that helps the members of the team/group process a decision.

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