TregoED Blog

The Barriers to Decision-Making Excellence

Making an excellent decision is an often challenging—and sometimes elusive—pursuit.  Many elements must come together to make this happen.

So, what’s stopping you?

Despite all the compelling reasons to use collaborative decision making, it typically is used less often-and less effectively-than it should be. In theory it sounds compelling. But in practice, it can be messy, frustrating, and sometimes downright disconcerting. Sometimes it just seems easier to do it yourself. The problem is that while it may seem easier, it is rarely more effective.

Two common barriers:

  • The Illusion of Experience:  Many leaders over-rely on their own-or someone else’s-experience or expertise. While tempting to think that experience or expertise equips individuals with the best answers, research does not bear this out. In other words, we are often wrong. Michael Fullan states, “…the two greatest failures of leaders are indecisiveness in times of urgent need and dead certainty that they are right in times of complexity.”
  • Clumsy Collaboration: Involving others superficially or disingenuously can create a culture where people feel cynical, disenfranchised, disempowered and undervalued.  Collaboration is far more than simply sharing information or sitting in the same room. Collaboration is a “process of shared creation” – producing answers or results of substance. Ineffective involvement produces suboptimal end results, lack of support, even open opposition.

Collaboration and Decision Making:

Effective decision making requires the ability to successfully involve people. In The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki explores the intriguing and well-substantiated idea that the collective judgment of many people is almost always better than the opinions of just a few-even the experts. Other people provide critical information, perspectives, ideas, and analysis which improve the end result. A collaborative approach to decision-making consistently outperforms an autocratic one.

So how do you overcome these barriers? The short answer is using a true process, making your work transparent, and creating a culture of excellent decision making in your district is a sure way to avoid these pitfalls.  For more details on how this can be done you might look at “Creating and Sustaining Excellent Decision-Making” which this blog has be excerpted from.

How do you overcome these barriers?