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Part II: The Elements of Decider

Decider's central feature is its protocol. In turn, the Decider protocol's most distinctive characteristic is that all team decisions must be unanimous. It is a by-product of unanimous team support that dissemination of decision accountability takes place, without thinning it down or clumping it up. By explicitly "signing up" each team member in support of every team decision, Decider delivers on both its purposes.

The accountability derives from the right of any team member to make a proposal that is resolved immediately, combined with each team member's capability to effectively veto any team proposal. Individuals who don't agree with a proposed plan of action must merely vote "no." A single, persistent "no" vote from any team member will kill a proposal, no matter how many others support it.

A Decider world is airtight with respect to accountability and empowerment leaks. Typical commitment-phobic tendencies are purged from the team as its decisions are made. The regular excuses and exculpatory stories often used to rationalize ongoing half-heartedness or failure are neutralized up front by the team's simple requirement: unanimity before action.

Common self-defeating behaviors have always been theoretically unacceptable, but are often tolerated. In a Decider-driven team, such self-destructive patterns will be more visible, so they can be explicitly rejected in the most useful (and hence supportive) way. All team members can make proposals (indeed, are required to when they believe they have the best idea), and all are required to support those that pass. Going forward only with explicit commitments from all to behave so as to achieve the team's purposes provides tremendous leverage.

This vivid and total accountability stands in stark contrast to the more common circumstance: No one is quite sure who decided which steps the team would take. With unanimity-based self-governance, virtually all team failures can be clearly traced to particular breakdowns of personal integrity. Moreover, because individual and communal integrity lapses can be easily traced to their point of origin, their frequency is reduced. Common potential excuses are eliminated at the voting stage when Decider is the driving decision-making process.

The Decider group decision-making process includes two components:

  • The Decider protocol structures the initial steps that a team takes toward a unanimously supported decision. Given a proposal, it will yield either an adopted plan or a rejected proposal.

  • Many times, however, there is an intermediate stage prior to full acceptance or rejection. An initial Decider vote results in a majority-supported proposal, but not a unanimously supported one. The Resolution protocol is then used to either upgrade the level of team support to unanimity, or kill the proposal altogether.

Other Decision-Related Elements

Beyond using Decider and Resolution, maximizing the effectiveness of team decisions and team decision-making will depend on the team's understanding and application of another important Core pattern (EcologyofIdeas) as well as the consistent use of an additional Core protocol (IntentionCheck).

The Ecology of Ideas Pattern

The team mentality is sustained by a constant stream of fresh ideas flowing from individual team members. The rate of flow, as well as the depth and quality of the ideas, determines the vitality of the team mentality. These factors are a function of the connectedness of the team members. When the connections are good, the ideas act synergistically rather than as a collection of individual contributions. Personal attachment to ideas of mixed lineage is less important here than in more compartmentalized environments. Indeed, every idea worthy of being considered is properly articulated by someone. Every articulated idea is released into a more nourishing milieu, rather than championed into a hostile one. Ultimately, each idea must compete with and connect to other ideas, and it must establish its own place in the team's mental ecology.

As a consequence, the qualities of the ideas themselves must suffice to animate and propel the ideas forward. Their own vitality must ensure their realization and development: in the minds that think them, in the memories they leave, and especially in the objects produced by the team after encountering the idea. An idea's persistence in the creatively rich environment of a mature team will be determined by its degree of attractiveness, and its accessibility to the multiple curious minds on the team.

If a team desires to develop the most robust team mentality, its members will study EcologyofIdeas, and then create their own implementation of it.

The Intention Check Protocol

The IntentionCheck protocol helps you assess the quality of your intentions before speaking, deciding, or acting on them. To a lesser extent, it can help you assess the intention of others by weighing their words and actions.


The degree of success in adopting Decider is also contingent on the team's avoidance of several antipatterns. Decision-making and accountability issues will, if not addressed by all members, lead to ineffective behavior. Most teams working without The Core will already be trapped in some of these antipatterns.

Resolution Avoidance

ResolutionAvoidance occurs when you create or prolong conflict, believing that you can avoid it. People who think of themselves as "conflict avoidant" are often "resolution avoidant."

Oblivious Action

ObliviousAction occurs when you act or speak while your higher cognitive faculties are "looking the other way." These cognitive faculties might have guided you to better results. In some ways, ObliviousAction is the opposite of intentionality.


Turf is a common anti-strategy that precludes the benefits from EcologyofIdeas. If your respect of role ownership causes you to forgo ideas, reject leadership, or avoid desirable things, you are turf-building.

Boss Won't Yield

This antipattern arises when an authority figure attempts to slow or stop a team from getting results because he doesn't understand or accept their methods or vision, or because he doesn't understand the actual power dynamics.

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