Decision-making

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First principle of group decision-making: Avoid group decision-making. Doacracy is better, although it's critical to pay attention to structures so that a diverse group has equal opportunities to contribute.

Giving up control is a prerequisite for maximizing collective intelligence.

For doacracies to work successfully, there needs to be a high-level of trust. You can generate that trust by emphasizing:

  • Alignment around goals / success. If participants in the network are clear and aligned around what they’re trying to accomplish, more often than not, they will make good decisions.
  • Clarity around roles. If participants in the network are clear about their respective roles, then they will feel empowered to actually do them.
  • Feedback mechanisms. If participants in the network have clear visibility into what’s happening, they can make smart adjustments on their own.
  • A culture of listening before asserting. Listening to others before asserting power not only results in better data (which in turn leads to smarter decisions), it helps build strong relationships and trust.
  • Strong relationships. Strong relationships lead to higher trust. Investing in trust is often sounder than developing complex governance structures to try to counter lack of trust.

Additionally, the following principles help reinforce high-trust do-acracies:

  • Be thoughtful.
  • Get concrete.
  • Better to ask forgiveness than permission.

When group decisions need to be made, default to a “without objection” approach. If there is an objection, go with a supermajority vote. For both of these to work, need to:

  • Be clear about when and where certain decisions are being made.
  • Provide enough lead time to discuss (or object) and also to block out the time for when the actual decision is happening.
  • Make people accountable for their decisions. It’s all too easy to assert an opinion if you don’t have to deal with the consequences / trade-offs afterward.

Be realistic about the amount of face-to-face time we will have as a group, and really focus that time on the things that are most useful. That means that many decisions will have to be made remotely. Be smart about developing processes for making decisions that way.