People use, understand, demand or invite “participation” very loosely. It is so broad a phrase that it is almost a cliché. To help my management consulting clients I talk about the types of participation that are possible. These are set out below, for you to consider.
TO AVOID SYNTHETIC PARTICIPATION, AND TO CLARIFY RESPONSIBILITIES WHEN MAKING A DECISION, ASK:
- WHO SHOULD BE CONSULTED BEFORE THE DECISION IS MADE?
Who are the people inside and outside the organisation who have some knowledge of or involvement in the matter being decided? List them all, to make sure that you consider all of them, and their various perspectives, and their different reactions to what might be proposed. Julius Caesar is reported to have said: “One should listen very carefully to one’s petitioners. Frequently that is all that you can do. Frequently that is enough.”
- WHO WILL ANALYSE THE ALTERNATIVES?
Someone may well take responsibility for analysis of alternatives, library searches, presenting information, etc.
- WHO WILL ACTUALLY DECIDE?
Deciding is choosing the best of the alternatives established as viable by those you have consulted.
- WHO WILL MANAGE THE PROCESS OF MAKING THE DECISION?
To whom will even the Managing Director defer when it comes to scheduling and chairing meetings, and timing?
- WHO SHOULD BE ADVISED AFTER THE DECISION IS MADE?
Who are all the parties who will be impacted by this decision? You will never offend anyone on the list… What do they need to be told?
- WHO HAS A RIGHT OF VETO?
A veto is a decision about whether to implement a decision. A good veto is based on a condition, rather than an opinion – “We will defer until we have $10,000 in the bank” rather than “We won’t act until the bank manager is comfortable”.