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Patterns in Group Decision Making

  • Consensus: requires the majority approve, and the minority agree to go along.
    • Consensus decision does not fit well with modern business as you often need active assent. Soliciting active assent is not a common pattern in meetings, and is often assumed through tacit silence 1.
  • Advice: Any person in the organization can make any decision, but the person must seek advice of all stakeholders and people with experience in the matter.
  • Benevolent Dictatorship: One individual makes all the decisions
  • Random: Leaves the choice to random chance
  • Unanimity: The group discusses the issue until it reaches an agreement by all those that are part of the situation.
  • Consent: “no objections”. Consent does not mean you fully agree, but you can “live with it”. It is not unanimity or full agreement.
  • Solidarity: unwavering commitment to the group, individual will supressed. 2

Costs per reasonable decision

One observation about decision making in organization is the hidden cost of making reasonable and small decision. For example. if the culture of the organization requires a meeting to decide an option that is interchangeable and small (say requires 1 hour of work), but the meeting involves an hour of decision making between 4 individuals, you’ve added 4 four workers to 1 hour of “real” work.

In order to avoid this problem, decisions should be small, safe-to-fail and made autonomously. High-level strategic decisions will set course for the org for months/years3.


Dagdeviren, C. Don’t Assume Consensus In The Absence of Objection. at https://candost.blog/dont-assume-consensus-in-the-absence-of-objection/ (2021).
Cleff, A. Decision Making Patterns for Teams. at https://www.andycleff.com/2021/09/decision-making-patterns-for-teams/ (2021).
Cutler, J. Cost Per Reasonable Decision (CPRD). @johncutlefish’s blog Blog at https://cutle.fish/blog/cost-per-reasonable-decision-cprd (2018).

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