Balancing Act: How and Why To Include Teams in Critical Decision-Making

One leader gives an inside look at how she meets business needs, holds employees accountable and collaborates without impeding innovation.

Written by Zach Baliva
Published on Oct. 31, 2023
Balancing Act: How and Why To Include Teams in Critical Decision-Making
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 “A camel is a horse designed by committee.” 

That’s how Sir Alec Issigonis expressed his frustration with the endless barrage of competing opinions that emerge when designers solicit feedback in large groups. 

Issigonis knew a thing or two about product design. The Englishman started working in the automotive industry at age 18 and later designed the legendary Mini for the British Motor Corporation. 

The Mini worked because Issigonis refused to abandon his goal. He wanted to introduce a small and affordable car with improved usability. While design by committee would have likely resulted in a bigger car similar to those available from other automakers, Issigonis’s front-wheel drive configuration helped the small car maximize space for cargo. With more than 5 million sales, the car has become one of the most sought after vehicles in history.

True innovators have to trust their vision without ignoring valuable feedback. Lauren Stevenson has seen the same in her work. Stevenson, director of customer experience at Jabra Hearing, fielded our top questions about how leaders can get the critical input they need to build elegant products and services, without jeopardizing results. 

 

Lauren Stevenson
Director of Customer Experience • Jabra Hearing

Jabra Hearing harnesses the power of technology to provide users with advanced hearing aids. 

 

When it comes to making important decisions, how do you welcome and incorporate the voice of your team into that process?

As a team, we often make decisions in an iterative and collaborative process. I take the view that decisions are rarely rigid and evolving will only make us stronger. I always encourage my team to ask questions and share their ideas. I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a team of skilled, thoughtful and intelligent individuals. I always invite their input!

 

I take the view that decisions are rarely rigid and evolving will only make us stronger.”

 

Please share an instance when you had to make a decision that would affect you and your team. How did their feedback guide you in the right direction?

We recently launched a new individual performance metric that required us to adjust our agents’ workflows to allow the metric to accurately reflect their performance. A couple of months before holding agents accountable to the metric, we started discussing it in individual and group meetings. That allowed us to gain invaluable insight into how to systematize workflows to meet agent needs and ensure that they feel confident in their ability to meet the metric.

 

Not every choice can be decision by committee. How do you effectively limit the number of inputs for a leadership decision while also making sure you’re tapped into the pulse of your team?

When we do encounter a situation in which we must make a decision to meet a business need or satisfy an immutable requirement, we ensure that our team has a forum in which they can raise feedback or bring their concerns in a way and within a timeframe that feels comfortable and secure for them. These feedback channels run the gamut from individual meetings with a manager, to an anonymous form that we address in our weekly meetings, to a quarterly engagement survey and beyond! We regularly incorporate this feedback into the ongoing enhancement and optimization of our team.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies

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