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Leaders Understand Decision-Making

When you see a need, perhaps you just need to do something about it. Maybe this is obvious. Action is an integral step to progress, but at times we can feel like we have no power to make the change we feel is necessary. An ideal outcome of an inclusive environment is you shouldn't feel as though your voice is unheard, but more than that, the people around the table should feel empowered to make the change, especially if the stakes are low.

I have a current example: communication channels for informal discussions around a shared experience where normally formality would be desirable, even necessary. This is a trivial discussion because in the end the worst case scenario is that people don't engage with this communication channel for whatever reason. However, how the group approaches the decision is not trivial because there are many ways to examine different options and decide.

As a technological aside, there are too many options right now for platforms to use and many differing opinions on what platforms allow for such channels to be useful or productive. Universities have different needs from small businesses, external stakeholders have different needs from internal ones, and no single platform implements every feature in the same way, if at all.

I have never used this terminology for myself and I should preface decision-making discussions with this caveat from now on, but I am often a consultative decision maker. I want to hear the ideas and input of all the people who may have an opinion and then make the informed decision myself. I have this privilege because of my current role. If I don't make a decision, there may not be anyone else who will do so and it may negatively affect the outcomes of a given project or service.

So frequently, we here in the Midwest are consensus decision makers, meaning that we want everyone to be on-board with an idea before moving forward. Universities are often seen as glacial entities, immovable even by pandemics and catastrophe, but the key is that too often, decisions are bogged down by that lack of consensus. One might even think that this is true of only larger teams, but smaller teams with the possibility of being more agile and innovative are more probably likely to be slowed by consensus-seeking.

Back to communication channels, as a consultative decision maker, I am looking to gather as much information as I can, then act. Slack, MS Teams, Zoom, Discord, Google Chat. In the grand scheme of things, the choice is mine to make and the outcomes are better than the alternative of stagnation. These types of decisions are about bringing people together from disparate locales and something in this case will be better than nothing, no matter the tool.