Here’s one of the problems I reckon happens in problem solving. It’s that we think we need to create collective agreement, or a majority rules, or a general consensus to make everyone happy with the decision. I don’t think this is true or helpful.
Now if you’ve ever been a parent or a child (so that about covers everyone) there are often decisions that are ‘family decisions’. One of the most disappointing ones I made was when we decided to go to overseas in 2016. Remember when we could travel? We sat down, Jacko, Holly and I to discuss where we could go for 4 weeks. Now this was a big decision as it was our first overseas trip together and it was going to cost me a small fortune.
We looked at all the options and they really wanted to see as many countries as possible. So France, Spain, London and Germany it was. Anything else resulted in a tantrum and disappointment face (and this was a very confronting face). It was the most exhausting and stressful trip I’ve ever been on. The museums were ‘boring’, the walking was too far, the buildings were ‘old’ and there were no groovy cafes like in Melbourne. Well F*&k me you ungrateful teenagers. And I did say that. Really helpful I know.
The problem was that I believed they needed to agree and feel really good about the decision. They didn’t know that Paris is full of gorgeous history and streets to explore, they just wanted to see the Eiffel tower. They didn’t care that Germany had a world war history that profoundly impacted the world, nor did they care.
I should have gone back to them to show them the itinerary so they knew what it would look like. I could have gone back and looked at all options, asked them to state their preferences and then tell them when I would make the final decision. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
I wanted to please them and in doing so it back fired. My intent was good but the outcome was not. They whinged and wined and I didn’t really enjoy it to be honest.
We’ve lost the art (or did we ever have it) of disagreeing well. Creating the conditions for conscious and healthy debate. As Julia Dhar would say; ‘We need to learn the art of gathering’. It’s all about setting the grounds rules of debate, making sure we are solving an agreed problem and being conscious that pleasing or consensus decision making won’t necessarily get us the right solution.
The morale of the story. Let your kids think they are part of the decision making process and then make one anyway. Ha!
PS: Want to talk about our ‘Working as One’ program? How to create high performance teams and workplaces (and give your team the tools I talked about in this blog). Just reply in the comment box below and say “lets chat” and we’ll reach out and set up a time to talk.