Archive for the ‘Decision-Making’ category

Open Our Minds – PLEASE!

April 20, 2013

Should I go this way or that?  What is right and what is wrong?  Are you for it or against it?  Is that person good or bad?  Often when people speak about the issues of the day they take sides.  But unlike the multitude of shapes they could take a position around, circle, square, oval, etc., they form around a straight line – this side or that side; my way or your way.  I recently discovered the following excerpt from Alice Camille that offers an alternative and, I would suggest, a more healthy approach.

“Often we view the world in binary terns: yes/no, right/wrong, good/evil, salvation/condemnation.  Are there pros and cons to this perspective, or is the two-column evaluation system one more indication that the binary code has got a death grip on our way of thinking?  Experience teaches us that not everything comes down to either/or.  Sometimes there’s a third way through life’s dilemmas (keeping in mind that the work “dilemma” means “two assumptions”).  We may make two assumptions about the way ahead, see our choices as black-and-white, but that’s rarely the truth of the matter.  The road may fork left and right ahead of us, but we can also choose to stop, turn around, drive on the median, or drive off the road altogether and forge a new trail.”

We, along with all people in leadership positions, should examine the many facets of each issue rather than taking a dualistic and many times unflinching stance.  We need to acknowledge that each perspective may have some “truth” to offer and no perspective is the total truth for everyone – everywhere – forever.  It is imperative that we actively seek to communicate and understand all perspectives of each issue if we truly seek the optimal solutions for all concerned.


Democratic Decision-Making with the Birds and Bees

April 16, 2012

A recent article in Smithsonian magazine1 explores the decision-making process of bees looking for a new home.  The process builds upon a phenomenon called swarm intelligence.  The article draws parallels between the decision-making in bees, in our own brains and in groups.  The common elements in all three reflect some good advice for groups seeking optimal decisions.  Thomas Seeley draws the conclusion that “Living in groups, there’s a wisdom to finding a way for members to make better decisions collectively than as individuals.”

It struck me that there are some lessons that we could learn from this simple creature.  Effective decision-making in human groups, much like in bees could benefit from:

  1. A clear goal;
  2. All members agreeing  to abide by the decision of the group;
  3. Opportunity for all members to share ideas and judge for themselves;
  4. Decisions made by quorum;
  5. A leader willing to accept the decision – even if different from his/her own;

How do the groups that you are in measure up?

The original article man be found at

1 Hive Mind by Carl Zimmer, Smithsonian; March, 2012