Decision-Making, how they used to do it, 400 B.C.

31 05 2006

Herodotus (c. 430 B.C), a Greek historian, documented an interesting group decision-making process used by the Persians.

“It is also their general practice to deliberate upon affairs of weight when they are drunk; and then on the morrow, when they are sober, the decision to which they came the night before is put before them by the master of the house in which it was made; and if it is then approved of, they act on it; if not, they set it aside.

Sometimes, however, they are sober at their first deliberation, but in this case they always reconsider the matter under the influence of wine.” 

While at first glance we may smile at the process, think about this: 

  1. While sober, a powerful participant might squash ideas or opposition from the others, creativity might be limited and inhibited by individuals that fear criticism or do not wish to offend those with power, and “logical-historical solutions” may be offered.
  1. While drunk, the inhibitions of the participants are reduced, people feel more open to offering “creative” solutions, and are more likely to criticize or expand upon a new idea.
  1. Using the two different environments (work-relaxed) to discuss problems also provides for shared experiences and “group-bonding”.

Next time you are seeking a group decision or solution, why not try to do it in two different environments?   (I am not suggesting that you get everyone drunk!) 

Where can your group relax and “let down their guard” vs. the more formal corporate environment? 

Are the solutions and interactions of the group the same in each different environment?



2 responses

16 08 2006
Observations from a Tech Architect: Enterprise Implementation Issues & Solutions

Effective Group Decision Making Techniques

The group decision making technique is based on the Vroom-Yetton leadership model that is widely referenced in the literature (see references below). Use this technique to select an appropriate style…

25 01 2007
Jay Moon

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