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Effective Decision-Making in Organizations: Balancing Team Input and Leadership

Effective Decision-Making in Organizations: Balancing Team Input and Leadership

01-A Significant Waste Within An Organization

When leaders make decisive calls, but then team members continue to discuss and cannot reach a conclusion;

On the other hand, leaders who should allow for team decision-making may intervene and hinder the team’s motivation and autonomy.

There are many decisions that need to be made by a team every day. Which decisions should be authorized for team decision-making or consensus through meetings, and which should ultimately be made by the leader or key decision-makers?

Your AI-powerd meeting assistant – Huddles

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02-The One-Way Door and Two-Way Door in Decision Making

Firstly, I would like to share a concept with everyone: “One-Way Door” and “Two-Way Door” decisions.

“One-Way Door Decisions” are irreversible, significant in impact and can result in significant loss of team benefits and cause serious harm to customer value if done wrongly.

Faced with such critical decisions, we need to be extremely rigorous and careful in judgment. Leaders often need to gather the team to help them with thorough analysis through various methods including data modeling to analyze feasibility and risk. However, the final decision-maker is still the leader or partners of the company, and they are responsible for the outcome of the decision, while using Huddles, each meeting will produce a conclusion after the meeting ends, make a clear list of next steps.

Fortunately, “One-Way Door” decisions usually do not require haste, which means you have time to spend on thinking and analysis.

For example, decisions such as whether to enter a new market or a new race track for the future of the company’s strategies. For team leaders, a simple metric is whether this decision helps the team achieve its goals and produces significant impacts on team benefits.

“Two-Way Door Decisions” give you the opportunity to make a decision first and then gradually execute and move forward. During the process, if there are any effects or reactions, you have the opportunity to adjust and change your actions at any time. Even if you make the wrong decision, you can step back and make the decision again.

“Two-Way Door Decisions,” sometimes called “Rolling Decisions,” is an apt representation. Essentially, we can focus on the next step of the decision: if it’s right, we move forward; if it’s wrong, we step back.

In fact, most of the decisions we face daily, whether as leaders or a team, are “Two-Way Door” decisions.

03-Waste Caused

A common trap for large organizations is making “one-size-fits-all” decisions, which severely impair the company’s speed and creativity.

  • Jeff Bezos (Founder of Amazon)
  • I have to admit that I’ve seen many leaders who spend more time and energy on decisions in the “two-way door” category, without consciously training themselves on their abilities to make decisions in the “one-way door” category or even think about those topics.

This kind of behavior can result in the team becoming overly dependent on the leader, losing their autonomy, and not being clear about what they can or cannot decide on their own, and simply asking the leader for everything.

Leaders need to be cautious not to treat reversible decisions as irreversible. This is a huge waste of your resources. As I mentioned earlier, the vast majority of decision-making problems are “two-way doors – reversible”. In other words, you don’t need to think too hard or invest too much time and energy. More importantly, when the results of the decision are revealed, you can quickly adjust.

You can occasionally remind yourself whether the following conditions exist when making decisions, and if they do, you should adjust your actions accordingly.

  • I have a tendency to overthink.
  • I have spent countless hours researching, analyzing, and making decisions, when I could have used that time to take action earlier.
  • I pursue perfection, and feel uneasy unless everything is flawless.
  • I have a habit of procrastination, always feeling that I am not yet ready to start.
  • I am unwilling to take risks, and try to avoid them whenever possible.
  • My decision-making process has slowed down.
  • I have reduced opportunities for innovation but I do not feel it is urgent.

04-How to choose [Double Doors]or[One-way Doors]?

My suggestion is that, when facing reversible decisions, leaders should be willing to let go and let the team make decisions. Which Huddles can let the whole team make decision all together. To clarify who support all the dicision or not. (You can see in the picture below)

You need to focus more on the whole process, how the team thinks, discusses, and resolves conflicts. Encourage the team to make decisions through different types of team decision-making meetings. These meetings need to have professional methods and reliable processes, and the team should follow rules of group discussion to ultimately generate decisions and conclusions.

More importantly, lead the team to review afterwards. If we did it right, celebrate and recognize. what we did right? What are the summary and rules, and what we can learn from it for next time? If we did it wrong, look back on the whole process, what are the experiences and lessons learned and how to face it the next time we encounter the same situation. These are all include in the Huddles, Let’s give it try!

However, if it’s an “One-Way Door” decision, leaders need to hold on tightly. At this time, what you need to do is mobilize the entire team to help you analyze and verify in different ways. You need to be very rigorous, not in a hurry because at this time, slow is steady, steady is fast. Remember, you can’t make decisions too quickly about irreversible decisions. You need to think and discuss repeatedly. You can invite the team to hold a discussion or problem analysis meeting with you. The purpose of such meetings is to bring various different ideas and voices out for you (or the top team) to reference and make decisions, such as new ideas or risks that need to be considered.

My advice for making these decisions is to follow the 70% principle. That is, after you have obtained 70% of the information you expected, you can make decisions. If you try to get more than 90% of the information before you dare to make a decision, you will often be slower than your competitors, causing greater losses.


Humans naturally dislike risks and avoid mistakes, but our growth often comes from continuous trial and error and active reflection.

Author: Fiona Berton

Meeting Effectiveness Expert

Deeply accompanying the organizational evolution of agile transformation in enterprises.

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