Merge's Blog

Improve decision-making by brainstorming with 2-6 stakeholders

BrainstormingLast week I started a short series on specific proven techniques you can use to improve the quality of your decision-making in your role as a leader.  Last week’s technique was to develop at least three or more realistic alternatives for the situation you are facing.  Today’s tip is one that I actually referred to in passing in the last blog post; specifically to brainstorm with a team of at least two, but no more than six stakeholders.

While this tool comes directly from my many years of experience working with leaders in numerous organizations, you don’t just have to take my word for it; the empirical research into organizational decision-making fully supports and reinforces this as well.  Obtaining insights from more people adds value and also increases buy-in, both very important in organizational settings.  But there IS an ideal number of people to brainstorm and team up with when it comes to achieving the highest quality of decision-making.  On one end, brainstorming on your own is not only almost impossible, but there is a huge danger that your own individual biases will come into play.  At the other end, more people generally means greater insight, but there is a point after which the law of diminishing returns comes into play.  The magic range is between two and six.  So actively seek out perspectives from two to six other stakeholders to minimize biases and improve the quality of your decisions.

Well, so far I’ve given you two ideas and I plan to share two more in upcoming blog posts.  But what do you think?  What have your experiences shown – is two to six the magic range, or does it cause more trouble than it benefits?  Please share your thoughts below.

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