Do you ever wish decisions took longer and had more people involved? Most people would say no to both. Just an educated guess.

Decision making in groups, particularly groups like the church, can be very difficult. The more people involved and unclear lines of authority can make for a complicated and tiring process. Just think of your last group decision you needed to work through, now review how the process both went and felt. A trend that you may see in your circles is what some might call apathy and a lack of necessary stake holders. That sounds very business-like, I know, but it may be the best way to describe the actual need of getting people to the table.

Congregational systems in particular struggle with how decisions are made and who is ultimately in charge of the outcome. There can be an air of secrecy, where people are not completely aware of who knows what, or what needs to be happen in order to make the decision. For some, the decision is made hurriedly and some are hurt in the process; for others, the decision just keeps going back to the table with no resolve in sight, seemingly stalled for eternity.

2 things I believe have to be gauged in the immediacy of decision-making:

Pace and Risk

PACE – How quickly does your group move from ‘mention’ to ‘mobility’? Basically, having the idea or issue in hand, necessary steps are taken, and finally it is mobilized or resolved.

RISK – How stressful or dangerous does it feel to those involved? We all desire a feeling of safety and security in all elements of life, but it is different for each person. So we evaluate how risky it feels at every stage of decision.

This places a lot of weight on those who guide the process of decision-making, and often that is the chairperson.

Setting your pace is a measurement of time.

Again, this is done in tandem with evaluating how it ‘feels’ to the group. So it is a matter of seeing each step in the decision as being a goal or separate decision on its own. But your timeline is based on these feelings and all the natural obstacles that you will encounter. That means communicating at every level, reminding people of the story of how we got to this point, and what the next stage will look like. It also means guiding the process will be realistic in their expectations.

Determining risk is a measurement of involvement.

If you are part of a larger group then you are concerned about everyone involved. It is not your decision alone, so you are evaluating risk with those who will feel the impact once all is said and done. Involvement almost always means discussion. It is here that you evaluate how much story telling and conversation will happen, and you will need to circle back on items to make sure everyone knows how we will move forward.

When you guide others through a process that will impact them personally, you help them be part of the pace setting and risk determining. The impulse will always lean towards making it a simple formula and possibily downplaying how important it is to everyone else. But leaders stand above those impulses, and get others to help them do so. Because when you alienate the group, you are no longer leading.

Communicate. Set a healthy pace. Review and evaluate where everyone is tracking. Help people make the decision.

So it isn’t about being quick. It is about making decisions in a timely manner with everyone involved.

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