How many people does it take to make a good decision?

This conversation starts with inquiry into what "good" means. A good decision has 6 characteristics:

  • Realistic: How much it is based on data
  • Supported: How many influencers support it
  • Engaging: How well people commit to follow through on it
  • Timely: How timely it is
  • Impactful: How it impacts intended and unintended consequences
  • Agile: How adaptive it is as change occurs

Good decisions can be made by one person. They might also require a small group of 4-5, dozens or any number of people. There is no absolute positive correlation between the number of people involved and the potential for decision goodness. More people, time or resources invested in decisions do not guarantee better decisions. And demographic diversity does not guarantee creative diversity or learning capacity.

If anything, my bias is that as long as people use a smart process, the crafting of decision options is best done by a small group because small groups are reliably more productive than larger. Once good decision options are crafted, the final decision can be made by one person or any number of people into the thousands and millions.

In a smart process, four of the most important reasons (and principles) we use to include people are:

  • They have unique perspectives, questions, facts (diverse thinking makes us smarter together)
  • Their support or commitment will be crucial to decision follow through (people support what they help create)
  • They are willing to make their agendas and biases are transparent (creativity and alignment are functions of trust)
  • They are avid and agile learners (what we don't know is always more important the what we do)

A smart process is organized by questions. Any group that can create, collect and curate good questions and leverage them with all available resources within the time available will make good decisions.