How do Teams make decisions?

agile, blog, management30

Everyone is talking nowadays about empowering teams. In most cases, organizations want to distribute decision making to teams. Teams are doing the actual work, and are often better in making decisions about the work than managers. So far, nothing new.

Some organizations use the Delegation Board of Management 3.0 to empower teams. Cool, as you would expect, I like it! As the manager, you delegated everything to the team. You are done, you can play golf all day, or maybe help empower other teams.

But what is happening in the team? The manager said: “I trust you, you have the knowledge, you make your own decisions. Level 7!” How does the team make decisions? Does the informal leader make the decision? Do they use the democracy approach? Do they use a Delegation Board 2.0?

I believe there are five approaches, five approaches that describe how a team can make decisions.

Aristocracy. One person makes the decisions in some areas. The team delegated the power to make the decision to one person. For example, the legal counsel makes changes in the non-disclosure-agreement in a multidisciplinary team.

Democracy. The majority of the team has to agree on the decision. The majority decides. It could result in unexpected surprises, one word: “Brexit.” In a team, it could be, for example, the location of the hotel for the next team retreat.

Sociocracy. One or more team members can make a decision after discussion with people who have knowledge about the decision, who are involved, are affected. If there are no significant objections, it is decided. Consent decision making. For example, the marketer proposes a new marketing tool but needs to discuss with the sales manager, and data analyst.

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Unanimity. Everyone should agree, full consensus. No exception, if one person disagrees, it is a no go. For example, a new hire in a team.

Randomly. Any decision is OK as long as a decision is made. For example, rolling the dice in the Management 3.0 team to decide if a bonus is paid out.

With these five approaches, you can discuss in a team how decisions are made. First, decide on the Key Decision Areas, and the next step is to discuss the decision levels per Key Decision Areas. This will result in a Team Decision Matrix. The next level Delegation Board!

What do you think useful for your team? What would you change to make it even better?


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