• 5/31/2023 8:00:37 AM

Regaining Talents- Part 2

Collective Decision Making: Consensus

Barış Onur Örs

In our previous article, we pointed out that the discovery and development of talents is a social responsibility. This responsibility includes not only the recognition and development of individual talents but also the improvement of our social working skills. However, the current economic system often misjudges or stunts these talents because it does not provide enough space for individual talents. Instead of promoting individual talents alone, a stable organizational structure that brings together various talents found in every individual not only has the potential to produce more successful results but also facilitates the development of individual talents. This is where the collective decision-making abilities of an organization and the concept of consensus come into play. Time management without becoming alienated by work, freedom of choice in defining roles and tasks, and achieving work-life balance can be possible with collective decision-making practices among the members of an organization.

In this article, we will focus on individual decision-making ability, one of the types of talent, and explore how this ability can evolve into collective decision-making in larger organizations.

Talent of Decision-Making

Decision-making ability refers to an individual's capacity to make effective and accurate decisions in complex situations. This ability includes processing various pieces of information quickly and effectively, predicting outcomes, and choosing an appropriate option. Individuals with decision-making abilities generally have the following characteristics:

  1. Analytical Thinking: These individuals are strong at compiling, analyzing, and drawing meaningful conclusions from various pieces of information.

  2. Quick Thinking Process: They can think quickly and make effective decisions, even in complex situations.

  3. Foresight: They can predict future outcomes. This includes the ability to anticipate the potential outcomes of choices and understand which decision leads to achieving the best result.

  4. Risk Management: The ability to assess and manage risks in the decision-making process is also important.

  5. Information Processing: Individuals with decision-making abilities can process information from various sources and use this information in the decision-making process.

  6. Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand, manage, and use one's own emotions and the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is vital for effective decision-making because it allows the individual to understand their emotional responses and those of others and to include this knowledge in the decision-making process.

These abilities can be innate or developed through education, experience, and practice. An individual with good decision-making abilities tends to be more successful in their personal and professional life because this ability is associated with many areas such as problem-solving, strategy development, and overall efficiency management.

However, cognitive biases can complicate individuals' tasks in decision-making processes.

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are logical errors that individuals often make in their thinking and decision-making processes. These biases, which are often the result of mental shortcuts or prejudices of which we are not aware, can negatively impact our decision-making abilities. Cognitive theorists have stated that in critical choice situations based on winning and losing, the human mind tends to follow more practical and shorter routes called Type 1 thinking, putting reasoning aside. In decisions involving intensive thought, and complex and high-level decisions, Type 2 thinking prevails. This process, which is based on attention and concentration, operates more rationally, analytically, and consciously. In some cases, making quick and intuitive decisions can save time and resources, while in other cases slow and analytical thinking provides the opportunity to make more accurate and optimized decisions. Despite the flexibility we have in everyday life to use these two types of thinking where necessary, modern humans are increasingly forced to make quick and superficial decisions, being pushed towards Type 1 thinking.

According to Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, and economist, rapid and superficial thinking leads to cognitive errors. Kahneman, in his work with Tversky, has discovered some fallacies that influence people's decision-making processes:

1- We tend to make our choices based on our previous knowledge and references (Anchoring Bias).

2- We give more weight to information that supports our existing beliefs (Confirmation Bias).

3- We attach more importance to events that we can easily remember and experience (Availability Bias).

4- We exhibit unrealistic overconfidence about our abilities or knowledge (Overconfidence Bias).

These cognitive biases prevent us from objectively evaluating the options we encounter, leading us to make risky and often incorrect decisions. Moreover, they make it quite difficult for us to recognize the mistakes we make. In addition to our personal decisions, as our responsibilities increase, we have to make choices on behalf of our loved ones, others, and society. Thus, the thousands of big and small decisions we must make throughout the day impact our future and that of society. In this sense, the individual of today tends to become indifferent in the increasingly complex world while feeling responsible for the future of the planet and bearing a deep sense of anxiety. This situation leads to the simultaneous experience of two contrasting emotions: the state of being responsible for everything and the state of being responsible for nothing.

In such a picture, collective decision-making practices are of vital importance. Collective decision-making can help make healthier decisions in the face of the aforementioned cognitive biases. In the data-flooded context where we are forced to make faster, reflexive, and emotional decisions, collective thinking practices assist us in transitioning from a Type 1 thinking style to a Type 2 thinking process or using both thinking processes in a more balanced combination.

Collective Decision Making: Consensus

Decisions made by consensus rely on the pluralistic analysis of options by incorporating different perspectives, thus removing the responsibility of the decision solely from individuals and transferring it to the community. James Surowiecki, in his book "We Are Smarter Than Me," discusses crowd intelligence and community-based decision-making. One of the most significant advantages of crowd intelligence is diversity. Different perspectives and sources of information enrich the decision-making process within the group and contribute to finding more comprehensive solutions. Also, Surowiecki has pointed out that community-based decisions can balance individual biases and errors, thus producing more objective results.

Consensus is a decision-making process where everyone has the opportunity to express and listen to opinions, allowing for the maximum use of individual abilities and the consideration of different perspectives. This enables looking from a broader perspective and solving complex problems more effectively. In the collective decision-making process, the talents and views of each individual are evaluated, making decisions based on more comprehensive knowledge and experiences. Cooperation and interaction between individuals increase during this process. This strengthens team dynamics and helps improve communication and morale. Collective decision-making also offers the opportunity to improve individuals' decision-making abilities and apply leadership skills.

The synergy between individual abilities and the collective decision-making process increases the efficiency and success of organizations. It allows individuals to use their talents most effectively and reach larger goals by working together. Consensus-based decision-making methods are more common in small communities or civil society organizations but are also becoming popular among technology companies today.

Below, you can find examples of some major companies that use this kind of decision-making process:

1. Amazon: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's "argue, decide, commit" philosophy is similar to the consensus-based decision-making approach. At Amazon, decisions are usually made as a result of long and detailed discussions.

2. Google: Particularly in decision-making processes concerning engineering and design, they consider the contributions and opinions of all team members. Instead of the notion that a decision coming from top management is always right, support is given for decisions to be approached from a broader perspective and made more democratically.

3. Atlassian: This software company particularly supports a consensus-based decision-making process concerning innovative ideas and solutions. It allows its employees to freely present their ideas and proposals and believes this process helps find better and more effective solutions.

4. Valve: Valve is built on the idea that all employees have an equal say in decisions. This model encourages all employees to express their ideas and contribute equally to projects.

5. GitHub: GitHub is one of the most recognized technology companies using the consensus model. Millions of software developers from around the world use the GitHub platform to collaborate on projects. In this process, decisions about code changes and improvements are based on users forming a broad consensus.

6. Spotify: Music streaming giant Spotify defines its development model as the 'Spotify Model', and this model is based on teams making their own decisions internally. In other words, each team decides how to do their work and which projects to focus on.

7. Zappos: Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos has adopted a management model called Holacracy, abandoning the traditional management model. This model replaces centralized management, focusing on "roles" rather than a "role" for each employee, and decisions are made through a consensus process.

8. Semco Partners: Brazilian Semco operates in many different sectors, and the company's way of doing business is based on a democratic and transparent structure. Employees have a say in the company's strategic decisions.