Let’s jump right in.
Analysis paralysis (the issue of not taking a decision at all)
This is my personal favorite. I’ve seen this happen time and time again. It’s been discussed, it needs to be decided but we still need some data.
The data we have is not complete enough to make this important decision.
And the decision gets postponed to a later moment when more data will be available and guess what? More data will be requested again.
If you can identify that this is what’s happening, if only one person around the table can bring it up, then it can greatly influence the decision moment. All of a sudden the team realizes that they are in a spiral, a never ending need for more accurate data.
Some industries are more prone to that. All makers of products that can affect people’s health and safety tend to have this happen more with good reason. They must take more time to make delicate potentially life impacting decisions, but they still must decide.
Rely Too Much on Past Experience
Yes you’ve made good decisions in the past and kept making them the same way. Perhaps your team even uses a healthy process and it works so it is used over and over again.
Lets explore 2 risks with that mindset
- Business elements change: new competitor, new customer requirement, new product never sold before, general market changes. This means that teams must ask the question if the past way of making decisions will still be accurate in the face of the new elements.
- As a leader, you’ve always taken strong decisions, you feel confident and you know the results targeted and you know how to get there. The new thing for you is that you just changed organization. You’re the new leader. The culture is different. Your boss hired you to make things move faster or in a new direction. You have the experience but you don’t know this particular culture. It is wise to use prudence and take a bit more time to make decisions. Include the elements that are new for you in your decision process…if you can see them.
3. Group Think
This one is also an old favorite. Your team is perhaps vulnerable to group think if these 3 elements are present:
- Low or no diversity in the team
- The team has been composed of the same people for years and has achieved some level of success/performance together
- The team has a very strong willed, charismatic leader supported by a few loyal lieutenants with lots of influence
What is Group Think? It is the phenomenon by which all members of a team agree so quickly that no questions are asked. No discussion happens, the same 2-3 members influence the course of things and what they say is what we all agree to do.
This is a tough one to actually identify and once you have, it’s hard to change the dynamic. If none of the above 3 elements change then there is little hope.
Lack of Clarity and Alignment with Your Company Values
This is a sad one.
It starts like this: people in the executive team start complaining that this place is confusing and that we keep changing our decisions. Our Mission / Vision statement no longer is aligned with what we are doing and creating daily.
Or it starts in a more insidious way. We are in a rut as a company, the only way out that the executive team sees is a complex borderline solution. At first it sounds like the others in the team understand the solution and you let it pass. Then it sounds like the solution that is actually being considered does not seem too legit. Maybe it’s even left unclear because it’s better that way.
In business history, these situations have happened at small and large scales. Just think about the US banking collapse and financial crisis in 2008. I’m not sure that boardroom members and executive teams fully understood the implications of what was being discussed as the decisions were being taken. Most of the time we think of a decision as a means to get aligned on the actions we want to take but as leaders, we must be mindful that decisions can create risks or remove risk as well.
Reminder that each member of a team is expected to speak up and ask questions, making sure all are accountable for decisions made. The overall impact on the business is too important to let it pass.
It is even harder to speak up if the team has a group think issue. Now let’s just say this is perhaps a dysfunctional team.
There you have it. Please leave a comment I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did you ever live these kinds of situations?