Group decision making LO5492

Malcolm Burson (mooney@MAINE.MAINE.EDU)
Sat, 10 Feb 1996 06:37:56 -0500

Replying to LO5370 --

Martin Brooks writes
>the 'founding fathers' are concerned the result [of getting
>additional perspectives outside their group] will be
>"management by committee," and asks if there are "hard"
>techniques to "ensure efficient and effective group

Martin, I'll leave to others suggestions about those "hard" techniques
and proven ways to get it right. From the standpoint of this practitioner
in a similar organization (growing past the youthful core of the founders'
vision and management), there probably _isn't_ any way to avoid management
by committee and indeed, that may be a positive choice, not an automatic
impediment. Your group's recognition of the need to gain the fresh
perspectives of others outside the founders feels like an acknowledgement
that perhaps the original visionaries don't have all the resources
necessary to manage in this new developmental stage of the company's life.
And the request to avoid "mgt. by committee" and do things "efficiently
and effectively" feels to me like a wistful acknowledgement that life
really was easier when it was just the few of them. All true.

The decision to broaden the decision-making base requires those founders
to let go of much that made founding so much fun: clear sense of shared
direction, control over all the essential processes of the firm, etc. To
enlist others in decision-making will require your group to take time and
effort (which some will dislike intensely) to build the same kind of
relationships in the new group that allowed the founders to work
effectively: shared vision, a real sense of one another as persons with
values and beliefs that matter to the company, the ability to communicate
openly without parking too much junk in the "left hand column." Doing
this will feel slow, and sometimes painful, and there will be a powerful
temptation to pull back to the "tried and true."

But as one who has recently lived through the pain of the departure of
founders who _couldn't_ make that transition, and instead took their
entrepenurial zeal off to found a competitor with the clear intention of
sending those of us left behind down in flames, I can say my belief is
that broadening the knowledge and decision-making base is the only way to
manage the transition you're in the midst of, and that given a real desire
to accomplish it, and the willingness to learn new ways of being along the
way, you will eventually move through the ambiguity into a highly
productive, efficient, and effective modality in which shared leadership
isn't just a phrase, but a reality.

Malcolm C. Burson<
Community Health & Counseling
Bangor, Maine

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>