New Leadership Video: Improve Decisions with Proposal-Based Decision Making

Posted April 21, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog proposalbaseddecisionmaking 2016

Reach­ing con­sen­sus on ambi­tious pro­pos­als aim­ing for big results can be a daunt­ing task, as any leader will attest.

Before we do, we must decide. Often, that’s the most dif­fi­cult part of mov­ing from talk to action,” says Jolie Bain Pills­bury in a new video on Pro­pos­al-Based Deci­sion Mak­ing, part of the Foundation’s series of video tools for results-based lead­er­ship devel­op­ment. The lead­er­ship devel­op­ment fac­ul­ty mem­ber at the Casey Foun­da­tion went on to say, But action in align­ment with oth­ers is the only way to move to large-scale results.”

Deci­sions often result from the major­i­ty rules approach after groups dis­cuss com­pet­ing ideas. This way of doing busi­ness lessens the chances of cre­at­ing deci­sions that all mem­bers of a group can sup­port, often lead­ing to inac­tion or inef­fec­tive results.

Pro­pos­al-based deci­sion mak­ing includes all par­tic­i­pants and pro­vides a much bet­ter alternative.

It begins when some­one makes a pro­pos­al, then oth­ers build on that pro­pos­al or make oth­er pro­pos­als, fol­lowed by dis­cus­sion. Then all par­tic­i­pants respond to the pro­pos­als by offer­ing a thumbs-up to sup­port them, a thumbs-down to oppose them or a side­ways thumb to indi­cate they’re unsure.

Accord­ing to Pills­bury, This engages every­one in the room and makes clear what peo­ple think about the pro­pos­al. Don’t be afraid of a thumbs-down or a thumbs side­ways as this is where pro­pos­als get better.”

Lead­ers should encour­age par­tic­i­pants who oppose or remain unsure about the pro­pos­als to express their reser­va­tions in detail. Invite alter­na­tive pro­pos­als or changes to exist­ing ones. Group mem­bers should then dis­cuss all con­cerns and ways to address them.

The goal is to get a thumbs-up from all par­tic­i­pants. If one or two still are luke­warm, ask if they’d sup­port going ahead with the pro­pos­al nonethe­less. If so, it’s time to pro­ceed, deter­min­ing who will take action to car­ry out the deci­sion. If resis­tance is still encoun­tered, keep dis­cussing the deci­sion until everybody’s ready to move forward.

Pro­pos­al-based deci­sion mak­ing can be more time-con­sum­ing than the tra­di­tion­al major­i­ty-rule approach, but it can cre­ate bet­ter deci­sions in the long run. The time invest­ed will pay off with a deci­sion that every­one sup­ports and that moves the group to action,” says Pillsbury.

Watch the video on how to get to High Action, High Alignment

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