Drucker on Effective Decisions, Part 6

In his book, The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, Peter Drucker analyzed the ways that management practices and principles affect the performance of organizations, individuals, and society. The book covers the basic principles of management and gives professionals the tools to perform the tasks that the environment of tomorrow will require of them.

These are my takeaways from reading the book.

In the decision-making process, Peter Drucker believed that develop disagreement is an essential component.

By developing disagreement over a decision, we start to consider alternatives, which can open our mind.

In fact, Drucker encouraged effective decision-makers to create dissension and disagreement deliberately, rather than merely rely on consensus.

Important decisions rarely achieve a quick consensus. We make difficult but well-thought-out decisions only after experiencing the clash of conflicting views and making a choice between different judgments.

The first rule in decision-making is that we do not decide unless there is disagreement, and there are three reasons why.

First, disagreement can provide alternatives to a decision. When we decide without considering the alternatives, there is always a high possibility that the decision will prove wrong. If we have thought through the alternatives during the decision-making process, we have something that has already been thought through to fall back on.

Second, disagreement can serve as a safeguard against the decision-makers becoming the prisoner of the circumstance. We all want to make the decision-making process as painless as possible. We look for all shortcuts to decide with the minimum amount of time or pain possible. The decision-maker can leverage the disagreement mechanism to share the decision-making responsibility with well-argued, documented, thought-through disagreements.

Above all, disagreement can stimulate the imagination. Important and complex decisions are not simply mathematical problems and usually involve many aspects of uncertainty. When a decision involves uncertainty, imagination can provide valuable alternatives.

Imagination can be spurred on by considering possibilities. Therefore, we need to challenge ourselves to see many more possibilities and thus to stimulate our imagination for solving the problem at hand. When we thought through, document, and reason through disagreement, we can create a most stimulating setting for our decision-making process.

The effective decision-maker, therefore, organizes the group and the process by seeking out disagreement. This move gives him the alternatives to choose from and also protects him against being taken hostage by the circumstance. Meanwhile, it forces the imagination, both his own and that of his associates.

The effective decision-maker starts with the commitment to find out why people disagree. He recognizes that disagreement can convert the plausible alternatives into the right consideration and the right into the good decision.