Want better decisions? Invite fewer people

4th October 2022

“A camel is what a horse would look like, if it had been designed by committee”

There’s a popular misconception that, to get great outcomes, we need to involve loads of people.

“It will be a meeting of great minds! We’ll combine the best of all of us!” etc

But big groups often just lead to ‘deciding by committee’ – slow, suboptimal and often based on what the loudest person wanted.

The easiest way to get consensus is to have fewer people.

After all, when there are two people there’s only one pair that needs to agree with each other.

But when there are four people, there are six pairs (AB, AC, AD, BC, BD, CD).

If a meeting contains six people, there are 15 pairs. If there are ten, there are 45 pairs!

So, how to decide who to invite? Just think DSI:

  • Decision maker – we need them there, to help us make the decision
  • Subject matter expert – we need their expertise. They can either step in, give it, then leave. Or they can brief us upfront. Or they can stay for the whole thing, if their expertise is needed throughout
  • Interested – anyone who’s interested but can’t (1) help make the decision, or (2) add expertise… well, they shouldn’t be there. They’re swelling the numbers. They’re making it harder to get consensus. They’re turning our lovely horse into a weird-looking camel…

Action Points

  • For today’s meetings, review the attendees – is each a D, S or I?
  • For the Ds, don’t do anything. They’re decision makers. You need them there!
  • For the Ss, consider how you can best involve them, and their expertise
  • For the Is, consider uninviting them (“I can give you an hour back today – you’re welcome!”)

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