Consent for Better & Faster Decisions

While exploring governance in business over the past couple of years I encountered both Sociocracy and Holacracy.  Both of these approaches to governance have been associated with self-directed groups, and both have wrongly been identified as forms of anarchy.  I’ve read about these approaches, attended introductory workshops, and participated in discussion groups –  but I don’t claim expertise (I’m not a trained facilitator in either Sociocracy or Holacracy).   I have applied some of what I’ve learned in daily practice, particularly consent decision-making which I feel can lead to better and faster decisions.

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What is Consent Decision-Making and Why Use It?

The basic idea behind consent decisions (aka formal consensus) is that the consent process splits-the-difference between autocratic decisions that are quickly mandated, and endless debate as can be encountered in group consensus decision-making: (more…)

“We’re Trying our Best” Practices?

I have a reference manual on my bookshelf entitled, Successful Marketing Planning.  Produced by a former employer as a compendium of marketing “best practices”, it is well made with thick paper and color-coded tabs, and oozes confidence.  But here’s the thing.  The manual makes no reference to any actual successful marketing project that resulted from following the practices, I don’t recall any examples of successes that were presented with training that accompanied the manual, and I knew of no other manager who had claimed success thanks to the best practices as stated in the manual.

Not one.

Best_core by Dieselducy via Wikimedia Commons
Best Core by Dieselducy

In fairness, there may have been well-documented successes attributable to the practices that were never revealed for some reason or by oversight, and the failures of which I was aware could have been due to poor execution of the practices.   Who’s to say if the practices in my manual, or any best practices, actually “work” or not?


Should You be Hiring “Wrestlers”?

Most businesses seem to be organized in a traditional pyramid hierarchy like a football team.  In this team model those at the top of the pyramid (coach/CEO) attempt to drive outcomes by “calling the plays” and expecting that the rest of the team follows a formal playbook.  This model has served the business world well by certain organizational measures, however, such organizations also may suffer when management from a distance confounds effective daily operations.


Top-down organizations are by no means the only way to achieve success as demonstrated by companies such as Semco where empowered teams can move forward confidently and independently.  Approaches such as Dynamic Governance facilitate the crafting of policy through inclusive decision-making that links team objectives to broad goals of the firm.  Teams are then permitted to achieve results through self-organization and management on a day-to-day basis without seeking or requiring further involvement from the executive level while observing policy that they helped formulate.

If traditional business organization is rightly analogous to a football team, then perhaps the ancient sport of wrestling provides a different viewpoint that can create a business edge. Consider some key differences in perspective that a wrestling team model offers:


The Medical Device Excise Tax: 18 Months Later

When the Medical Device Excise Tax was announced it generated much heated debate ( That heat seems to have dissipated over the past months as other issues have floated to the top of the news heap.

The End Is Near

Many didn’t seem to understand the furor over a relatively small 2.3% tax on medical devices. The tax, however, is taken right off the top-line sales rather than net profit, and this calculation has the potential of a large impact on the operations of medical device firms (

A lot of speculation was offered as to why the tax would be either a good thing for healthcare or the death knell for the medical device industry. I, too, provided my opinion on what I felt were 5 likely outcomes regarding the future of the tax from repeal, through modification to inaction. But the fact is that no one knew outcomes for certain because the actual effect of the law hadn’t yet played-out. Everyone was guessing which still seems to be the case.


Is Holacracy a Dyson?

Dyson DC15

Yeah, like the vacuum cleaner.  Let me explain.

I always have a canine companion (or two) in my home, and fur is an inevitable result.  So when I went looking for a new vacuum cleaner a few years ago, the Dyson brand caught my eye.  It appeared well designed, made an interesting pitch about easy maneuvering and never losing vacuum, and seemed to get pretty good reviews. Although there were other name-brand alternatives that were less expensive, I decided to go with the Dyson.

And the Dyson does a nice job of cleaning as I easily maneuver it around furniture and other obstacles (like my canine companions).  I like my Dyson, but here’s the thing — when all said and done, it’s a vacuum cleaner.


Of Horses and Innovation

Portrait of Henry Ford (ca. 1919)
Portrait of Henry Ford (ca. 1919) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know if the use of “celebrity quotations” is a new trend that I noticed, or if I’m just fatigued from reading such worn-out proclamations and overly sensitive to them.  The quote that caught my attention recently was the oft-referenced quote that is attributed to Henry Ford about innovation, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, then they would have said a faster horse.”

The problem with this particular quote is not only that Ford may have never said those words, but that so many people seem to have latched onto the quote as some kind of proof source in support their world view.  The recycling of the quote seems to have cemented it into the mythology of our times.


The Three Rules

TheThreeRules250I groaned when I first heard about The Three Rules, a book by Michael Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed.  Based solely on the title, I guessed it would be yet another popular business book that would rise quickly on the bestsellers list only to be replaced by the next such book off a never-ending assembly line of popular business books.  The book certainly has the typical features of a best-seller toss-away, including a pithy title that suggests a prescriptive solution for companies that want to achieve “exceptional performance.”

Having read The Three Rules, however, I have a new perspective on the work.  Chapter and verse reviews are available at Amazon ( and elsewhere, so my comments below focus more on why I feel that this is an important book to add to your collection.