Creative Edge Focusing E-Newsletter

Instant "Ahah!"s #5:  Collaborative Decision Making 

COORDINATED COLLABORATION: THE BEST OF HIERARCHY AND CONSENSUS                                                               
 Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director                                Week Four 

If you clicked through to Creative Edge Focusing Collaborators' Group and found no interesting brainstorming about bringing Focusing-related Projects into the world, I have taken a step to stir up some discussion over there by starting "strands" for each of the main Interest Areas of Creative Edge Focusing: Creative Edge Organizations, Education, Positive Parenting, Conscious Relationships, Building Supportive Community, Experiencing The Sacred, and Experiential Focusing Therapy. So, head on over and give your thoughts, networking, brainstorming on these topics!
Here is how I introduce these topics in my article explaining the Collaborative Edge Decision Making method and, particularly, the Coordinated Collaboration component for allowing collaborative decision making within time-limited and hierarchical settings:


     Hierarchical and collaborative models of decision making both have strengths and weaknesses. Hierarchical models can breed apathy and alienation, and the absenteeism, low productivity, and carelessness which can result. Collaborative models can lead to an inability to reach conclusions and to carry out effective action and can degenerate into power struggles over leadership. The Collaborative Edge Decision Making Method combines the benefits of both collaboration and hierarchy:

1. Benefits of Collaboration

     Collaboration, where people work together as equal colleagues toward a common goal, has the following benefits compared to strict, hierarchical, top-down decision making:

(a)    The equal hearing of every viewpoint and the contribution of each person's unique expert knowledge can  lead to  win/win decisions which are more inclusive and creative;

(b)    Egalitarian expression of disagreement can address weaknesses, producing decisions that are objectively higher in quality;

(c)    When participants have a say in decisions affecting them, even when they do not get all of what they want, they experience greater "ownership" of decisions and become more willing and motivated to carry the decisions out;

(d)   Working together toward a common goal also produces feelings of friendship and collegiality which lead to greater enjoyment in working together and greater commitment to the group and the organization itself.

2. Benefits of Hierarchy

     In most business settings, clear, hierarchical lines of authority and responsibility insure that:

(a)    Decisions can be made within prescribed time limits;

(b)    Specialized expertise of individuals can be utilized effectively;

(c)    An overview of the entire organization's objectives and projects can be developed by executives, in communication with any advisory Boards and shareholders. This overview can be communicated to managers, who can organize the efforts of work groups toward accomplishing these over-all objectives.

(d)    "The buck stops here." Clear lines of responsibility, and the accompanying power and authority needed to take responsibility, are established.

3. Coordinated Collaboration Component

      In pure consensual decision making, a decision is not made until everyone in the group feels able to go along with it. At the very least, dissenting group members have to be willing to say, "I'm not willing to participate in the project that way, but it's okay with me if you three want to carry it out, "or, "I think there's a better way to be found, but I'm willing to go along as long as we review the outcome in a month" or some such qualified assent.

     If someone is not able to agree in any way, it is assumed that the decision is flawed, some piece of information needed for problem-solving is missing, or not yet articulated, and the group will benefit from spending more time sitting with the decision until an acceptable solution arises. Committees can be formed to gather more information, and group members can spend time individually or in pairs using Intuitive Focusing to look for innovative solutions.

     However, in many situations within an organization, decisions have to be made on a timetable and passed along to other collaborative teams or up the hierarchy. Using the Coordinated Collaboration approach of the Collaborative Edge Decision Making method, a Coordinator or Project Manager can set time limits for Collaborative Decision Making and be empowered to make final decisions when the time limits are up and take these to other levels.  Coordinated Collaboration allows the benefits of collaboration within the time limits and structured responsibility of hierarchical organization, capitalizing upon the best of both models."

Actual Steps of Coordinated Collaboration Procedure
Read on to discover the actual steps of the Coordinated Collaboration procedure:


1. Coordinated Collaboration

 If needed, a Coordinator or Project Manager will volunteer or be assigned to oversee a project:

     (a) The Coordinator will establish a timeline including more than one time-limited period for

          Collaborative Edge Decision Making. At the end of each time-limited period, the

          Coordinator will take responsibility for putting the collaborative group's "product," up to

           that point, into a comprehensive report which captures the points of agreement while

           maintaining the many facets of Creative Edge input which are still up in the air.

      (b) Then, the Coordinator passes this input before the collaborating group again, for another

            time-limited period of Collaborative Edge Decision Making, repeating this process until

            the time-limit for collaboration is up.

       (c) At this point, the Coordinator formulates the final report, including making remaining

            essential decisions, attempting as best as possible to maintain the spirit, or Gestalt, of the

            group's collaborative effort."

Ten Easy Steps For Bringing Collaborative Edge Into Your Decision Making Groups
See our
Interest Area: Creative Edge Organizations for ten, simple first steps you could take for bringing Collaborative Edge Decision Making into groups you belong to.
For a complete explanation of the theory behind access to The Creative Edge and innovative decision making, you can download Dr. McGuire's comprehensive article,
"Collaborative Edge Decision Making Method, " . As a bonus, the Appendix of this article includes Handouts you can use at actual meetings, one for each role in Shared Leadership.

Reread the simple "How To's For Groups" (Instant "Ahah!" #5 in Mini-Manual). They define the five roles in Shared Leadership and various Listening/Focusing methods for Impasse resolution. The "How To's" arose from my dissertation research, Listening and Interruptions in Task-Oriented Groups, University of Chicago, 1977, with Eugene Gendlin, creator of Focusing (Focusing, Bantam, 1981, 1984) as advisor.
Now, imagine incorporating these procedures into the groups you belong to, holding in mind the idea of bringing The Focusing Attitude, a Caring Feeling Presence, into these groups and other aspects of the organizations involved.

Please email Dr. McGuire with your questions or answers about the groups you belong to, the meetings you attend


Think about whether there are any small groups, sub-groups or teams, committees where you would feel safe enough, and empowered enough, to explain to coworkers about cooperation vs. competition, about the Focusing Attitude toward originality, uniqueness, and mutual support, and suggest trying out Instant "Ahah!" #5, Collaborative Decision Making, using the "How To's" for groups.

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About Creative Edge Focusing (TM) 
Mission: bring Core Skills of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, and The Creative Edge Pyramid of applications from individual to interpersonal to organizational, to all audiences throughout the world.
Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director
Location: Beaver Lake in Rogers, AR
These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
Creative Edge Focusing (TM)
Dr. Kathy McGuire