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ABC Solutions has developed a new cleaning product called Peachy Clean, and the marketing team needs to create a plan that will introduce the product and deliver strong sales. The team is divided about next steps, including different taglines and marketing strategies. The marketing director needs to figure out how to get them aligned and moving forward.
Team decisions can be a can of worms. Easy, one-size-fits-all solutions are tempting to implement (e.g., That’s it, I’ll just decide myself! or Let’s vote!), but the truth is that team decisions are best made along a continuum, ranging from one-person pronouncements to the entire group coming to consensus.
Command: Person with authority decides
Consult: Input is given, then person with authority decides
Vote: Everyone votes and majority rules
Consensus: Everyone gives input and the group comes to agreement
(For more on this, read Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, especially Chapter 9.)
How do you decide which decision-making strategy is best? It comes down to the degree of individual agreement and individual commitment you need. Agreement (A) is the degree to which each person believes that this is the best solution. Commitment (C) means each person will give ongoing support, effort and perseverance for the solution.
Command solutions may mean that everyone has 100% A and 100% C, however, in practice this is often not true. Consult and Vote may be more transparent, but often A and C aren’t explored fully. Group decisions based on Vote can backfire if everyone isn’t fully on board, because people can “have nothing invested in success and often have something invested in failure.” In the case of Peachy Clean, team members could vote for a marketing approach that they are not fully committed to supporting. Down the road, their buy-in may waffle and follow-through will suffer.
The consensus process of the “70% agreement and 100% commitment (70/100) model” is an explicit method for ensuring quality solutions and commitment. Though people will buy in if they agree 100%, many durable decisions can also be achieved at 70% agreement. (I can support this even if it isn’t exactly what I want.)
Commitment is key. When people commit whole-heartedly (and mindedly) to the decision, they’ll follow through and make it work, even if it isn’t their first choice. Bob may prefer the slogan, “Peachy Clean makes super sheen,” but he’s willing to commit 100% to “Peachy Clean is peachy keen.”
If you’re tempted to jump right to a Command decision to save time, remember how hard it is to unravel the problems created by weak commitment. If the issue requires an aligned team investment to solve it, you’re better off getting a 70/100 decision up front.
Want to streamline team decisions or have a helpful hint for agreement and commitment? Comment below or message us here. We love helping teams create magic.
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