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Making Better Decisions – Five Styles of Decision Making

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I wonder how many people take the time to analyze the process of decision making in groups, teams, and organizations?  Well, there are many models.  One of these models is the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Normative Decision Model.

So why would you care how decisions are made?  Well, to make the model of decision making explicit helps you make better decisions based on a number of variables that are going to affect the quality, acceptance, and ability to implement the decisions under different circumstances.

In the Vroom-Yetton-Jago model, first ask these situational questions

  1. Quality Requirement (QR): How important is the technical quality of the decision?
  2. Commitment Requirement (CR): How important is subordinate commitment to the decision?
  3. Leader’s Information (LI): Do you (the leader) have sufficient information to make a high quality decision on your own?
  4. Problem Structure (ST): Is the problem well structured (e.g., defined, clear, organized, lend itself to solution, time limited, etc.)?
  5. Commitment Probability (CP): If you were to make the decision by yourself, is it reasonably certain that your subordinates would be committed to the decision?
  6. Goal Congruence (GC): Do subordinates share the organizational goals to be attained in solving the problem?
  7. Subordinate conflict (CO): Is conflict among subordinates over preferred solutions likely?
  8. Subordinate information (SI): Do subordinates have sufficient information to make a high quality decision?

Second,  turn the crank on the model using this chart.  Note: This chart looks complex, but it’s not.  The chart will not hurt you or damage you in any way.  Click to enlarge

Lastly, the output is one of five styles of decision-making

  1. Autocratic Type 1 (AI) – The leader makes his/her own decision using information that is readily available to him/her at the time. This type is completely autocratic.
  2. Autocratic Type 2 (AII) – The leader collects required information from the team/group and other stakeholders, then makes decision alone. The problem or decision may or may not be informed by the team/group.  Here, the team/group involvement is just for providing information.
  3. Consultative Type 1 (CI) – The leader shares the problem to relevant team/group members individually and seeks their ideas & suggestions and makes decision alone. Here the  team/group members do not meet each other & the leader’s decision may or may not have team/group influence. So, here team/group involvement is at the level of providing alternatives individually but not collectively.
  4. Consultative Type 2 (CII) – The leader shares the problem with the team/group collectively and seeks their ideas & suggestions and makes the decision alone. Here the team/group members meet with each other and through discussions they understand other alternatives. But the leader’s decision may or may not have the  team/group member influence. So, here the  team/group involvement is at the level of helping as a group in decision-making.
  5. Group-based Type 2(GII) – The leader discusses the problem & situation with the team/group collectively and seeks their ideas & suggestions through brainstorming. The leader accepts any decision & does not try to force his/her ideas. The decision reached and accepted by the team/group is the final one.

The ‘Get”

The get is simply this.  People in groups, teams, and organizations are generally unaware, or dimly aware, of their decision-making processes.  Without knowledge of the process (generally, an ad doc process is used) decisions don’t fit the circumstances, are sub-optimal, or fail in implementation – especially when buy-in is needed by a large group of stakeholders or implementors.

So, take the time to make explicit the decision-making process in the teams, and groups in your organization for different classes of decisions that have to be made.  By making the decision-making process explicit, at least, a team or group can all be on the same page – be in alignment – on how decisions are made. 

Made explicit, stakeholders will be more comfortable with the decision once they know the parameters and the process that contributed to the final decision outcome.  And of course, there is always the opportunity to make another pass through the model by changing any of the eight situational parameters in the list above. 

To the extent that decisons are based on contexts,  these decisons should include a ‘sunset date” – or some date that that decsion is re/evaluated in a new context or situation.  In the law, decisons are challenged when they no longer “make sense” under changed cirsumstances.  Some good examples are given in the TED talk by Larry Lessig on why the the law (decisons) must be challenged based on new and emerging technological contexts.


A great movie on the dynamics of group decision making and consensue building – Twelve Angry Men

Written by frrl

August 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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