Previous   Next

Section 13  Team Decision Making

            The team as a collective source of intelligence often breaks down when it comes to decision making. Majority rule often indicates ignorance even in the presence of good ideas. Teams sometimes rely on opinions over data or make “politically correct” decisions rather than just plain correct decisions.

For consistently making the best use of team resources in decision making it is important to make a commitment to candor and leave the conformity behind. The task is to openly discuss in your team the need to make decisions based on the best information available.

Hanging back while others make a poor decision should be discouraged in the new team culture and team building process itself. The whole team is responsible for any less than optimal decisions made.

When someone suggests a decision and everyone agrees readily it might be a consideration to invite disagreement. Remembering that it’s a poor use of time to hash over a decision everyone really does support strongly.

If a shy or unpopular team member suggests a different course of action, it might be advisable to weigh it objectively and encourage others to do so as well. It is possible to expand the collective intelligence of decisions by hearing out all serious suggestions without bias.

If there is disagreement it should be stated while providing reasons for the doubt. Everyone should listen to the staff member’s response and act accordingly.

Reaching a decision by consensus requires involvement of all team members. Consensus decision making is generally preferred because it guarantees that the issues have been carefully examined and that the group supports the decision. There are times however when consensus decision making is not appropriate. Consensus decision making is not appropriate when: 

·        The decision is outside the boundaries of the team  

·        There is a crisis that calls for immediate action  

·        The team does not have the technical expertise to make the decision  

Agreement within the team, based on understanding and commitment is the optimal way to make a decision. Although it sounds like an impossible ideal, consensus is surprisingly easy to attain in a culture of open disagreement and feedback. The more normal it is for the team to disagree openly, the easier it is for the team to agree on a reasoned solution.

If consensus can not be reached, plan a back-up strategy. Rather than taking hours forcing a consensus where none exists or settling for a default basis for the decision, you may want to decide ahead of time how to handle the decision.

 For example, you may want an “expert” in the area in question be the designated decision-maker if a consensus cannot be reached. When staff members are frustrated, go to your back up plan. 

A few of the following suggestions may also help in assisting the team to make a decision: 

·        Define the decision to be made. State the purpose of the decision and the alternatives available.  

·        Gather information. Get necessary information to consider all alternatives, options and angles.  

·        Think about it. Consider your feelings and opinions about the issues before discussing them with the team.  

·        Exchange thoughts and views. Team members should express their thoughts and feelings about the issues and listen to the views and feeling of the other team members.  

·        Reach a decision. Discuss the issues and make a decision all team members can support.  

·        Support and implement the decision. Everyone on the team must take ownership of the decision once made and do all they can to implement it successfully.  

Using Creativity in Making Team Decisions 

            Being creative in team decision making is being open minded to the ideas of others. Being creative is also having the ability to defer judgment and criticism. Team members who are creative have self-confidence in their creative abilities. They also have an increased tendency to view change as a positive event and are willing to communicate honestly and openly in taking risks and making mistakes. In releasing team creativity in decision making, here are a few guidelines:  

·        Avoid rigid patterns of doing things  

·        Approach learning with a child’s curiosity  

·        Be open to new team member’s ideas  

·        Delay evaluating your ideas until you have thought, discussed and analyzed numerous alternatives  

·        Take risks and forget about failure  

·        Recognize and avoid unwanted assumptions  

·        Visualize yourself and the tea being successful

·        Set aside time to practice creative thinking each day  

·        Be flexible and keep trying out new ideas  

·        Don’t always accept your first “right” idea  

While the team and its members are on a creativity path there will always be someone with idea stoppers that put a damper on creative juices. Some of the idea stoppers might be: 

·        It won’t work with our team  

·        It’s too much work for the team  

·        We’ve done all right without it  

·        We’re not ready for that  

·        It’s too risky  

·        Let’s get back to reality  

·        Let’s be sensible about what we’re doing  

If team members don’t entertain an idea stopper they might be aware of some of the myths of creativity in team decision making,  listed below: 

·        There is always a positive relationship between creativity and intelligence  

·        If a person is creative, he or she will be creative in every situation  

·        Creativity cannot be taught because it is an inborn trait  

·        Creative persons tend to be mentally unstable  

·        Creativity diminishes with age  

Creativity is a benefit to the team building process and is instrumental in promoting effective communication and mutual trust and responsibility among members. It can also produce cooperative and cohesive energy in group efforts. When creativity flourishes the patients also benefit and it soon can become the expectation in providing excellence in patient care.