Tag Archives: Efficiency

Consensus and the final decision maker

Flat corporate organizations are in fashion these days. The theory is that the best decisions are made by consensus, and that it’s important to strive towards building that consensus by giving everyone, independent of their seniority, the right to voice their opinion.

I support giving everyone the right to voice their opinion. Often the most junior team members have the most knowledge about an issue, so it’s important to draw on this knowledge during the decision-making process.

I also support decision making by consensus when this consensus can be achieved.

However, in many cases, it isn’t possible to reach consensus. Even after an issue is debated at length, there remain different perspectives on the right course of action.

When this happens, there needs to be a final decision maker. The puck needs to stop somewhere. In other words, when decision making by consensus doesn’t produce an outcome, the organization benefits from having a final decision maker decide on and state what will be done.

The alternative is that everyone leaves with their own idea of what needs to be done, the organization heads in multiple often opposing directions, and there is no accountability for the outcomes of these actions. It’s both inefficient and doesn’t produce results.

When consensus can’t be formed, it’s worth trading away a pleasant sounding but inefficient flat organization for an efficient and results producing final decision maker.

Eating while working

Sometimes you have a lot of work to do. So rather than set aside 30 minutes or an hour to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you decide to eat while working.

While this makes you feel more efficient, the reality is that you’re actually being less efficient.

The first reason for this is that your train of thought while working is repeatedly interrupted by the bites of food that you eat. Although you don’t notice it, the back and forth between thinking about your work and placing food in your mouth causes a decline in the depth of your thoughts and hence your work output.

The second reason is that we’re not programmed to be fully efficient throughout the day. Instead, we have times of peak focus, followed by times of lower focus, and cycle through these states. By accepting your times of lower focus and eating at these times, you’re able to set the stage for a time of peak focus while also enjoying your food, without sacrificing efficiency.

Finally, many of our best ideas come when our minds feel free to be inefficient and just roam. In other words, what feels like inefficiency often ends up being more efficient than what feels like efficiency. Just like spending time in the shower, taking the time to just eat can be one of those times with low perceived and high actual efficiency.