Decision-Making for Team Leaders

Effective group decision making requires far more than knowing how to organize a discussion or take a vote. This program is designed for both new and experienced team leaders or team sponsors, managers, project managers, portfolio managers, program managers, and executives and general managers. It is especially valuable to people who work in organizations that confront fluid environments, in which decisions must be made in the context of uncertainty.

Have you ever seen a team invest several meetings in trying to decide an issue that wasn't theirs to decide, only to have their decision overturned by the person who was actually responsible for the decision? Or have you ever seen a team try to decide an issue before certain critical information was actually available? These are some of the fundamental issues of effective decision making for teams and groups.

In modern knowledge-oriented workplaces, unlike conventional 30-years-ago workplaces, everyone makes decisions that affect others. What distinguishes the people we call "decision makers" from everyone else is usually nothing more than the number of people their decisions affect. The ability to make effective decisions promptly is thus widely recognized as an important skill for us all.

Decision-Making for Team Leaders

Decision-making can be challenging either when we have too many options or too few

Less widely recognized are the factors that good decision making requires. And even less widely recognized are the obstacles present in the workplace that make good decision making so difficult.

In this program we explore both the ingredients of good decision making, and the obstacles to good decision making.

This program is available as a keynote, workshop, seminar, breakout, or clinic. For the shorter formats, coverage of the outline below is selective.

This insight-filled program deals with issues such as:

  • How do approaches to strategic decisions differ from approaches to tactical decisions?
  • Why do difficult decisions so often create interpersonal conflict?
  • What is the relationship between decision-making practices and the frequency with which we find ourselves in "firefighting" mode?
  • How do effective decision-making practices differ for individuals and groups?
  • Must virtual teams approach decision making differently from co-located teams?
  • When the situation is evolving rapidly, as in emergencies or when deadlines tighten, how can we adapt our decision-making processes?

Learning objectives

This program helps leaders and team leaders who want their teams to become more effective at making decisions. Learning objectives include:

  • How to recognize the basic decision-making patterns, and the conditions for which each is most suitable
  • Boyd's OODA model of combat, and how it relates to decision making
  • The seven fundamental phases of all decision-making processes, and what each phase requires
  • Common obstacles to effective group decision making
  • The effects of cognitive biases on both group decision making and individual decision making
  • The causes and manifestations of groupthink, group polarization, and other group dysfunctions related to group decision making
  • Common failure modes in decision making
  • How leaders can create effective decision making cultures
  • How to manage dominant individuals and bullies

Program structure and content

We learn through presentation, discussion, exercises, simulations, and post-program activities. We can tailor a program for you that addresses your specific challenges, or we can deliver a tried-and-true format that has worked well for other clients. Participants usually favor a mix of presentation, discussion, and focused exercises.

Based on attendee interest and program duration, topics will include, for example:

Boyd's OODA model
Boyd's OODA model describes the role of the decision-making process in formulating organizational action. This model provides a foundation for the formulation of decision-making principles we will provide.
Phases of the decision process
A phase model of the decision making process is essential to understanding the roles and importance of decision inputs, and their relative timing.
Requirements for effective group decision making
Group decision making, as distinguished from individual decision making, has its own set of unique requirements. An appreciation of these requirements is a necessary foundation for high-quality group decisions.
Obstacles to effective group decision making
Groups frequently come to decisions prematurely, or worse — they make bad decisions too late to repair them. We will explore the obstacles groups face and suggest methods for circumventing them.
Effective decision-making patterns
Individuals and groups that make effective decisions with regularity tend to follow similar patterns, often chosen with specific contexts in mind. We will provide guidance for approaching complex decisions successfully.
Failure modes in decision making
Even when we do all the right things, failure is always possible. By examining how decision processes can fail, we gain an awareness of the warning signs, and we can make corrections earlier.
Decision-making challenges
In some cases, effective decision making is obstructed by external factors beyond the control of those tasked with making the decision. Understanding these possibilities is fundamental to avoiding bad decisions.

Whether you're a veteran of leading teams in workplace decision making, or a relative newcomer, this program is a real eye-opener.

Learning model

We usually think of decision-making skills as rather technical — free of emotional content, and emphasizing technique. We hold this belief even though we know that our most difficult situations can be highly charged. Despite our most sincere beliefs, taking a team to the next level of performance does require learning to apply new skills even in situations of high emotional content. That's why this program uses a learning model that differs from the one often used for technical content.

Our learning model is partly experiential, which makes the material accessible even during moments of stress. Using a mix of presentation, simulation, group discussion, and metaphorical team problems, we make available to participants the resources they need to make new, more constructive choices even in tense situations.

Target audience

Leaders and managers and technical project team members. Participants should have experienced at least six months as a member of a decision-making team.

Program duration

Available formats range from a half-day to two days.

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