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  • Yasmine

Anatomy of a decision

I have been finding myself recently fascinated by the process of decision making in the academic environment, in particular to what extent this process appears to be such a powerful indicator of the health of a group dynamic. Let us elaborate.

Research collaborations that I am familiar with are to a large extent structured like a pyramid. One person sits at the top, they represent the entire collaboration to the outside world. The next layer is composed of a series of coordinators with different roles and mandates. Some elected, some appointed. Coordinators as the name suggest coordinate activities, people or group of people and so on.

All of this is fairly standard.

Many factors can contribute to the complexity of the pyramid for example the number of people involved, maturity/experience, the competitive and risky nature of the work, the budgets, the nation or international dimensions.

It would be interesting to have the data to study the correlation between the creativity, productivity and overall well being of organisation with the way that decisions are taken. This opens the pandora box of «meeting management » which is the field of decision making in our research model. Whether they are the place where information to make a decision are gathered and debated or the place where they are later propagated, meetings are always - some times a painful - part of the decision making process.

None of this is what has been the object of my recent fascination.

What I have witnessed and maybe to some extent had underestimated in the past is the importance of Trust. Trust, with a well deserved capital T, is everything.

Here are some manifestations of the lack of Trust in an organisation:

  • The allocated bandwidth and mental capacities devoted to decision making is significantly reduced as a large part of it goes into second guessing intentions, motivations, agendas.

  • The amount of time to reach a decision is multiplied by huge factors as every spoken or written word is really instrumentalised for said intentions, motivations, agendas.

  • Decisions reached are never fully accepted and one can easily fall in an infinite loop of the two previous points.

  • Spontaneity with all its benefits of thinking out loud is nowhere to be found.

  • Other things I certainly forgot as I found myself stuck in points one and two.

There is something very organic about an organisation no matter how big or small. They have a pulse, a recognizable identity, they breathe, live and can also die. Trust is like the blood that nourishes the entire structure. In a functioning body, no one pays attention to the flow of blood. It just works. However, blood clots can occur and like a blood clot, signs of the loss of Trust can be easily missed. By the time one understands that a series of seemingly unrelated things all point to Trust being broken, the damage is already done and is often irreversible.

There we are my dear reader, no matter where you sit in a pyramid or whatever geometrical shape you evolve in, please remember that trust is everything, any électronvolt spent to build and nourish Trust will be well spent energy and will for sure pay off.


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