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inclusive decision making with Susan Loucks

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Are you experiencing the awkward silences at the board meetings where people seem to want to say something, but no one is speaking up? Or maybe it’s that one person is dominating the conversation. How might leaders and organizations actually facilitate structure and process for all voices to be heard at the decision making table? On today’s podcast, organizational development consultant Susan Loucks shares with us how inclusive decision making can be facilitated and fostered.

Myths that Susan wants us to walk away from

  1. Having a structure for decision making restricts participation. While having a very complicated decision making framework can definitely be too restrictive, having no structure is not conducive for ensuring inclusive participation at the board or organizational decision making table. For people who feel that they are not the loudest or most powerful voices in the room, having a simple and clear structure can actually allow them to fall back to that structure and express their opinion.

  2. It’s great that our board is always in agreement and making efficient decisions. While there is value in efficiency, having consistent agreement might mean that you’re not paying attention to the diversity of perspectives and opinions at the table, or that you don’t have a diversity of perspectives at the table.

Susan’s tips on fostering inclusive organizational/board decision-making

  1. Adopt a clear decision making framework that people get behind with, and actually follow the structure.

  2. Establish the culture that accepts and celebrates disagreement

  3. Don’t rush with decision making. Be ok to sit in the uncomfortable zone of deciding to not decide.

Favourite Quotes from Today’s Episode

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“I am usually happy if everybody is in agreement, it means it's going to be easy. It means it's going to be efficient. But I have to watch myself - this is not the optimal place for the group. We don't want people at each other's throats, but to have everybody agreeing is not the best outcome for this group. We want to be able to see that disagreement. So actually just to frame this as disagreement is healthy and good, and we want to surface that and learn what we can do better.”

“I think the bias is towards let's just make this happen. We're informal. We'll just talk. We don't have to have a lot of rules. If you're the one in power, it's super easy for you to not understand how it feels if you don't have power. To feel like I have an open door. People can just come in and talk to me! They're not going to do that unless there's like a time in the week when you're allowed to come in and talk. Right?”

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership

Susan Loucks