In principle, if we want our group decisions to be creative—that is, result in new and better ways of doing things—we need to draw on all our resources and blend them in new ways. Typical meetings are structured to put our heads together and, indeed, our knowledge and ideas are a tremendous resource. But we have more. Why not go further and put our hearts together, share our feelings, stories, fears, and passions? Further still, why not put our hands together and do physical activities as a group?
A group decision process that includes intellectual exchange, sharing from the heart, and hands-on physical activity is most likely to yield creative results.
Practical Tip: Don’t just do brainstorming, try heartstorming. Don’t just sit and talk about stuff together, get up and do stuff together, with your hands.
If you want truly creative group decisions, share ideas, feelings, and activities…all three.
In principle, it is generally much harder to say no than to say yes, either in a group or as a group. As an individual in the face of group sentiment – sometimes called peer pressure – it is much easier to quietly agree than to take an opposing stand. As a group faced with adding things or cutting things, saying yes to new things is much easier than saying no because we get instant credit for new intentions but the liability – the responsibility for implementing the new initiative – is spread out over many individuals, put off into the future, underestimated, or simply overlooked.
But when we say yes without proper accounting for the liabilities they pile up, become due, spread us too thin, and water down our focus resulting in failure to achieve our most important goals.
Practical Tip: Identify and continually affirm your most important goals. Groups do this by establishing strategic plans, decision criteria, performance objectives, and other means. With every opportunity to say yes or no to new things, ask, “How does this help achieve what is most important?”
Practice saying things like: “That’s a good idea, I understand and appreciate your perspective, but that simply doesn’t fit with our priorities right now. Perhaps it could be addressed by someone else or at another time.”
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and other books, reminds us that great organizations have “piercing clarity” about what they want to achieve and “relentless discipline” to say no to diversions.
A way to say no is to have something more important to which you are saying yes.
In principle, to name is to understand. It’s huge. It is key to solving problems and resolving conflicts. When just the right words are used to name a situation, a perspective, a feeling, it can bring instant relief and instant forward progress. By leaps and bounds. Naming the problem is over half way to solving it.
Practical Tip: Name situations, perspectives, feelings; that is, describe them in ways that ring true. Do not avoid thinking about a hard problem or conflict; rather, think about how to think about the problem or conflict. Give it a name.
Name things without judgment. Name things out loud for others to agree or challenge. Name things with honesty and integrity, not to mislead. Be open to names suggested by others and open to re-naming.