When was the last time you were with a group of people that needed to make a decision, where people tossed out ideas and at least one suggestion was totally ignored? If you’re like most of us, it was probably within the last few weeks, whether in meeting or a social setting.
Did you realize that the group actually did make a decision?
The decision was “no” – it just wasn’t acknowledged. Teams are constantly making decisions, often without first being clear about how the decision will be made.
When teams are not clear on how their decision will be made, they often don’t make the best decisions.
For instance, we often assume that silence means consent—if you don’t say anything you are in favor of the proposal. Yet this assumption is frequently wrong.
Have you ever been in a meeting where someone said, “Alright, it’s agreed we will do it” and then after the meeting ended, members shared reservations and questions? Unfortunately, the implementation of these decisions then falls on those who did not support or understand the decision.
The most common way an unhealthy team makes a decision is by lack of response (“decision by plop”). Someone proposes an idea and before anyone responds, someone else suggests another idea and the conversation moves on.
Because no one acknowledged that a decision had been proposed, the suggestion “plops.”
It might have been a good idea that didn’t get to be explored.
And even if it wasn’t, because it was not acknowledged, the person who made the suggestion also feels unacknowledged, which can affect their willingness to contribute in the future.
Don’t let decisions ‘plop’ – but question, explore and dig for the gold in all ideas.
The more we dig for gold, the quicker the “golden” ideas are offered by others.