Democratic Decision Making

“I am conducting an experiment,” Marianne explained.

“Why do you call it an experiment?” I asked.

“Because I’m not sure if it will work. I have never tried it before. So, if it fails, then it was just an experiment. I am going to try democratic decision making with my team.”

“How will that work?” I wanted to know.

“Well, we have a situation with a couple of different solutions. Some people think we should go one way, others think the other way. I thought it best just to take a vote. At least that will get buy-in and support.”

“What if it’s the wrong decision and it jeopardizes the whole project?”

Marianne was silent.

“Which way do you think the decision should be made?” I prompted. “And what if the team decides the other way? And how will you explain a poor decision to your manager? Will you say that you disagreed, but your team outvoted you?”

3 thoughts on “Democratic Decision Making

  1. Chris Jelinek

    Tom, I believe that getting “buy in” is a very important aspect however, As the manager you are responsable,you will rely on your “council” of experienced team members and with that information make the choice, good or bad, posative or negative, ” Own your position”

    1. Gordon

      I agree with Chris here. The manager is ultimately responsible for the team’s decisions and action. When I as a manager run into a similar situation, I will usually turn the table around. I would offer some of the options and make my recommendation for the direction I think the team needs to go. However, I would then ask my trusted experts on the team for feedback, opinions and counters to my proposal to ensure we’ve examined it as best as possible, with me making the ultimate decision.

      The caveat to this, of course, is you need to have a team that is willing and comfortable enough to speak up and challenge you, and not simply agree with everything, But that is a different topic altogether!

  2. Arun Kumar

    There are two things to look at expert decision v/s general decision making.
    If the situation is say
    1. Nuclear meltdown and which colour button we should press to stop it – Best ask the nuclear scientist
    2. We got a turkey and an oven and want to have thanks giving- Best ask the cook
    but if the situations is say
    3. We need to trim the garden – Ask everyone in democratic way how it should look
    4. We need to watch baseball game – Ask everyone.

    As a leader/manager/decision maker you will have to be judge of which approach is suitable for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.