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Consensus Management Doesn’t Work

Written by Gino Wickman on November 7, 2011

Implementers EOS Management

I’m always fascinated with many leaders that I meet and work with who really believe that reaching consensus is the most effective way to make decisions. This is very dangerous due to delays, missed opportunities, and lack of respect from the troops waiting to be led. In addition, historically, the biggest and toughest correct decisions have been made when going with the minority, not the majority.

In a Fortune magazine article on decision making, Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, is quoted as saying that in his years of research, “No major decision we’ve studied was ever taken at a point of unanimous agreement.”

The best way to describe the ideal scenario is this:

On a healthy team, eight out of ten times, everyone will agree with the decision. However, two out of ten times, they won’t, and at this point, the leader of the team must make the call (even if it goes against the majority). Consensus management does not work and will put you out of business. Not everyone will be pleased in these situations; however, as long as they have been heard, options have been weighed, and the team is healthy, they can usually live with it. From there, everyone on the team must support the decision and present a united front going forward.

Try it in your next meeting. It works.

For a deeper dive into issue resolution and difficult decision making, download my free ebook here.


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