Team Commitment -- The Dysfunction
Can you have commitment without consensus? Lencioni contends that consensus and the need for certainty can be the enemies of team commitment. In other words, commitment and consensus may not be compatible.
Lencioni explains "that reasonable human beings do not need to get their way in order to support a decision, but only need to know that their opinions have been heard and considered."1 This is true in the workplace and on the home front. Even children find it easier to abide by unfavorable parental decisions when they feel their parents listened to and duly considered their thoughts on the matter.
It is impossible to please everyone all the time. Rarely will all people agree on an issue, which means that consensus will require compromise. Compromise often produces inferior results. A better alternative is to have commitment without consensus. When a decision is made contrary to what I would have preferred, I can support that decision if my input was heard and taken seriously. Anyone present in the room knows where I stand. If I put my full weight behind the initiative and it succeeds, I have learned something new. If I support the issue and it fails, the results have shown my objections to be substantiated. As long as I am fully committed to the cause, I win whatever the outcome.
There is an old saying, "Any decision is better than no decision." Indecision is the enemy of progress. It is better to make a wrong decision and pursue it passionately, than to make no decision and stagnate. The beauty about passionately pursuing a wrong decision is that you discover quickly the error of your way and can boldly enact a second decision to right your mistake. A team that gets stuck in analyzing mode creates an atmosphere of indecision and fear. Team members become less and less confident, afraid of making a mistake. What this indecisive team fails to realize is that each mistake takes the team one step closer to victory. Mistakes are not bad. They give us the chance to try something new. Research just about any great invention or leader and you will find a wake of mistakes. Greatness is born on the wings of error.
Lencioni sums up commitment, "Great teams make clear and timely decisions and move forward with complete buy-in from every member of the team, even those who voted against the decision. They leave meetings confident that no one on the team is quietly harboring doubts about whether to support the actions agreed on."1 Just as productive conflict is not possible without team trust, team commitment cannot be achieved without productive conflict. Buy-in depends on the ability of the team to openly discuss all issues, confident that everybody has fully shared their opinions.
Is your team commitment-phobic or are they able to easily buy in once a decision is made?
1 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni