by michaelcheek

Decision-Growing: When Content and Process Come Together

by Augusto Cuginotti

When we are part of a community, some decisions are made that impact the way we live and interact with each other – it’s not just about the content being decided, but the process that took us there. On the other hand, there are issues that need to be dealt with, and avoiding them only hurt the community that people want to preserve.

Content-driven People Take the Picture when They Should See the Movie

Usually the content-driven is the one who likes to solve the problems and move on, put things in paper as agreed so community lives in peace. A passion to quickly solve a question simply disregard the fact that most of community life is about communicative action: how we learn to better interact with each other and act together by that same interaction.

The act of solving a problem the easiest or quickest way might mean that important conversations have been shortened, important people were not present, and whatever is decided – although might solve the immediate problem – generates the ripples of disaffect that will end up in more future work or permanent group frustration.

I have heard that this might have been imported from purely business settings – where there are, of course, more functional things that can be solved in a minute. But even in a business group, if misplaced, decision-making totally focused on the content generates pure power relationships that are famous to make Monday mornings the worst day of the week.

Process-driven People Discuss Why the House is Burning Instead of Getting Out of the Building

Usually the process-driven is the one that pays great attention to how the community or group get to things, to make sure that everyone feels unhurt and every voice can be promptly heard. A passion to care about people, their rights and their opportunities, may cloud the same issues that make people feel unwell. The action resumes in avoiding or masking decisions that postpone the real issue, a receipt for future disaster.

Community and consensus lovers are stereotyped examples of this – hurt by the world dominated by problem-solving, people tend to care about the process of being together and don’t tackle the big elephant that might be sitting in the circle. With some hot water bottles, they ease the conflict to maintain the ‘stable’ society.

These groups might disappear sooner than the other ones – as the conflicts pile up behind the scenes, when they come out of the closet they are so big (and hairy and scary) that the sensible way to deal with them is to run away to fake relationships or, if possible, to start another community somewhere else.

Decision-Growing: When Content and Process Come Together

It is clear that life in community goes beyond solving problems and other functional actions we collective take. It also goes beyond people staying happily together as a family. Living in community is more like tending to a living organism that wants to remain alive, it is to conserve our faith in being together.

Perhaps decision-making, that allow systems to function should be complemented by decision-growing. To grow a decision is to re-visit a conversation that is crucial for the community, is to tend to what keeps people together rather than the problems that might break them apart.

Here both the functions of a system and the richness and beauty of being together are present: one that requires decision-making, the other that happens by the simple fact people come together. When acknowledged, both become a group of people constantly growing decisions together.

Do we decide, individually or collectively, how our relationships should be?
Do we just let things happen as long as everyone and everything seem ok?
Or should we grow our decisions together, tending for the relationships but letting them flow?