Overview — How We Grow In Our Decision-Making

Decision Making Approach provides a framework for engaging others in common work. Without clarity about approach, mutual work becomes impossible. Convergent decision-making eliminates and prioritizes options in a limited time to promote a sense of progress. Divergent decision-makers create more satisfaction by coming up with new ideas and testing everything possible to find the best one. Convergent decision-making maximizes results in time; divergent decision-making maximizes results based on a spatial framework of inter-related ideas. When an individual is Open Ended or Variable, they have learned how to anchor themselves in the middle, where they end up responding appropriately; due to the situation or depending on whether they need to be more Convergent or Divergent.

The more we understand Convergent and Divergent Approaches, the greater our capacity to separate ourselves from our personal preferences and actually accomplish what is needed based on the best Approach given the current problem. Unfortunately, our Imprinting experiences with our parents have created situations in which we personalize the problem so Approach has less to do with being effective than it does with being met. In that case, it appears to be more important to agree about how to do it, not what is most effective or expedient in the circumstances. The more we know and accept our natural Approach the less reactive we will be when others unconsciously push a path that is not appropriate. We can then respond in an easy-going, detached way that can be accepted.

Our Decision Making Approach can be different at work, in relationship, and in personal creative time. Parental imprinting that results in confusing, mixed messages heavily influences these factors. For example, we could be extremely organized or convergent, yet, because we do not want to be compared to someone else (usually a parent), we will keep our work desk or creative space messy. If there is a distant background where we were criticized and needed to be perfect, we may rebel by doing particular things that do not match our overall pattern. This is why we are general in our classifications. Overall, we choose one Decision Making Approach because one of these will be a way of operating that honors us the most. This does not mean that in certain areas we will not do things differently, because we have either been trained to do things one way, or because we have learned to react to others to pre-empt them from doing something different. Instead of reacting from our insecurities, we must look deeper within to identify and communicate the real sources of our concern. Our desire is to prove that only we, alone, are needed to get the best result. Unfortunately, we get conditioned to believe others have more power than we do in the decision-making process. The more we understand different decision-making Approaches, the more quickly we can neutralize our differences and Co-Create common solutions.

Examining Our Decision Making Options

Our decision-making approach is how we structure problem-solving. Some individuals focus, prioritize and make decisions within a pre-established timeframe for immediate action - we call this Convergent. Others, at the opposite end, want to reflect, explore options without a pre-established structure for long-term results - we call this Divergent. Still others like an optimum balance between Convergent and Divergent approaches. They let circumstance dictate the approach – we call this Switchable.

The potential for decision-making effectiveness is significantly expanded when we all realize that Convergent and Divergent approaches are equally powerful and valid. Problems occur when people do not have an understanding of the full range of natural decision-making approaches that can work in the situation. In other words, they become focused on their way of doing things (being right) and do not accept that others could accomplish things just as effectively by doing them differently.

When we insist others make decisions the way we do, despite their natural process, we create distrust and stress. By denying the other’s legitimate point of view, we intensify the conflict with them. We create situations where people are not heard or recognized for their perspective. This ultimately encourages avoidance behavior.

When others do not appreciate the unique approaches of their associates, they spend energy positioning and arguing about the way to solve problems rather than co-creating as a group. Individuals feel frustrated and stressed – they become cynical about group gatherings and lose confidence in their own and other’s ability to produce the desired results. When this happens, individuals find other ways to get what they want – usually by more covert and political means.

While this factor can show up differently in various parts of our life, we are usually naturally Convergent (meaning focused or prioritized toward immediate action), Divergent (meaning unfocused and open to exploring all options until the best become obvious) or Switchable (meaning we respond or react based on what others do or expect). For some, this compatibility factor is difficult to identify within ourselves because of contradictory beliefs set in place by imprinting.

Fortunately, it is possible to develop appreciation for decision-making approaches – both our own natural approach and the approach of others. This provides the context for mutual contribution and expanded creativity. Team members experience fulfillment and accomplishment because of their work together – and solutions are far better than any one individual could have developed on their own. This would be called a win-win decision-making process.

Summary: The Decision-making Approach provides a framework for engaging others in common work; without clarity about approach, mutual work and problem-solving becomes impossible and stagnation or unilateral actions result. Decision-Making Approach reflects a choice on the continuum between being Divergent or researching options to find the best, long-term solution, and being Convergent or taking immediate action to get something done. The more conscious we are about decision-making approach, the more we take other’s patterns and the situation itself into account before define how we will decide something.

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© Copyright 2016, Larry Byram. All Rights Reserved.

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