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The Four Methods of Decision Making

When you’re deciding how to decide, it helps to have a way of

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talking about the decision-making options available. There are

four common ways of making decisions: command, consult,




vote, and consensus. These four options represent increasing

degrees of involvement. Increased involvement, of course, brings

the benefit of increased commitment along with the curse of

decreased decision-making efficiency. Savvy people choose from

among these four methods of decision making the one that best

suits their particular circumstances.

Com mand

Let’s start with decisions that are made with no involvement what­

soever. This happens in one of two ways. Either outside forces

place demands on us (demands that leave us no wiggle room), or

we tum decisions over to others and then follow their lead. We

don’t care enough to be involved-let someone else do the work.

In the case of external forces, customers set prices, agencies

mandate safety standards, and other governing bodies simply

hand us demands. As much as employees like to think their boss­

es are sitting around making choices, for the most part they’re

simply passing on the demands of the circumstances. These are

command decisions. With command decisions, it’s not our job to

decide what to do. It’s our job to decide how to make it work.

In the case of turning decisions over to others, we decide

either that this is such a low-stakes issue that we don’t care

enough to take part or that we completely trust the ability of the

delegate to make the right decision. More involvement adds

nothing. In strong teams and great relationships, many decisions

are made by turning the final choice over to someone we trust to

make a good decision. We don’t want to take the time ourselves

and gladly tum the decision over to others.

Consu lt

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