Great organizations strive to make the BEST decisions and facilitate that by being certain that the person who must make the decision is fully informed. I believe strongly that committees ADVISE and leaders DECIDE. The relegation of decisions to a committee diffuses responsibility and may not take full advantage of the judgement of the senior leader. That an individual is accountable for the decision does not mean the decision is made in isolation or the process is autocratic. In strong organizations, leaders benefit from vigorous issue- centered, data driven discussions. In fact, for particularly complex and challenging decisions, I have often asked the most informed people to engage in a formal debate with one taking a “pro” stance while the other argues the “con”.
A consensus decision making process is a regression to the means in which the decision that makes the least number of people uncomfortable is inevitable. This, of course, leads to very cautious net actions which I believe is rarely a winning or even competitive outcome. In my organizations, I do not allow a leader to say, “the team “thinks”. I ask the leader to describe the various positions the team has considered, then the decision he/she recommends and why. I often ask the dissenting members of the team to discuss their position and the reasons for their position. This process often makes people uncomfortable, and some people simply cannot tolerate the exposure. Over time those people leave organizations I lead.