“None of us is as dumb as all of us.”
So goes the saying, but sometimes it is necessary for groups to be smart together. Usually, group efforts look better when they are unanimous, although that is not mandatory. Also, “unanimity” could also be a delusion held by the manager.
In his book “Consensus-Oriented Decision-Making,” Tim Hartnett acknowledges the strength that a unanimous decision can provide, but he also suggests that an insistence on having everyone agree can sometimes be counterproductive.
Hartnett enumerates the problems that can arise in unanimous decision-making:
- The group might not be able to decide an issue that must be decided.
- The group might not be able to reach decisions on process issues.
- The group could stagnate, unable to change and grow.
- The group might not be able to compete with other groups that can reach decisions quickly.
- The group’s reputation in the community might suffer.
- The group might lose talented members.
- The group might try to evict a member.
- Discussions might die before they begin.
- Agonizing discussions might be repeated in subsequent meetings.
- Participants who can endure conflict longer might prevail.
- Founders might wield greater power than newcomers.
- Attention-seekers might dominate the focus of the group.
- Mavericks might defy the group.
- Special committees might usurp the role of decision-making.