Why The Best Idea Isn’t Always The Best Idea
I have come to believe that the best decision isn’t necessarily the best decision; rather it’s the one the most people can genuinely get behind.
I was engaged in a discussion with Dan Forbes and a few other Leaders in the “Lead With Giants” Google Plus Community, talking about the importance of consensus.. My comments in the discussion led me to think that perhaps my thinking needed more explanation.
What happens when we go with the ‘best decision’ whether or not we achieve consensus, or buy in for this decision?
- One person can make a decision, however it takes a team of people working together for successful implementation.
- Expecting, wanting, or demanding support for a decision does not mean people will actually support the decision.
- Opinions and feelings about the decision, as well as all of the actions and changes that will happen implementing the decision, are not heard.
- People who do not feel heard do not feel valued, important, or engaged.
- People do not like change… in particular change that is imposed upon them.
- Unhappy, disengaged, and undervalued workers may not support the changes; or may go so far as to undermine the implementation of the changes.
- Time and money are wasted working to overcome worker pushback.
- The implementation of our decision falls far short of our expectations, and we wonder why.
Even though this was the ‘best idea’, when we fail to hear the opinions, and more importantly the feelings of those involved, we fail to achieve the level of success we expected. The benefits, and ROI are much less that we thought we would realize, and what could have been a great thing becomes just another in a long line of failed initiatives.
What happens when we work towards consensus?
- Group members are engaged and empowered by inclusion
- Concerns and feelings can be expressed and heard, building stronger, trusting relationships
- Those involved have more ownership and commitment to the decision as well as the implementation.
- When practiced on a regular basis, the open and honest discussion and debate involved in consensus building allows us benefit from the experience of the entire group.
- We create a shared understanding of the goal, and agreement on actions.
- People are more willing to accept and participate in changes when they have had a chance to share their concerns and fears, as well as participate in determining changes to be made.
- People who feel heard are much more likely to fully support the changes, and even help bridge gaps with other teams and departments.
So… the best idea is the one the most people can get behind. It’s the one that gets supported throughout the process, so the results realized are much closer to our expectations. More people on all levels are willing to accept the changes because the people responsible for implementing the changes felt ownership, and showed honest, personal support.
Although the idea that the most people can get behind may not get us as far as our hopes for ‘the best idea’, it moves us closer to our big goals, while at the same time forming a team where most people feel heard, trusted, valued, and supported. That second goal is the much more important goal… Leadership through relationship building is what will enable us to reach our larger goals, and keep us agile and competitive in the long run.