In one of Tom Davenport’s recent books, Judgment Calls , he and co-author Brooke Manville offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment. That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.”
I cite this passage when interviewing thought leaders and ask them to respond to it. Here’s my own take:
1. Obviously, everyone knows much more than any one person does.
2. However, some of the best decisions are made by individuals.
3. That said, the more reliable and relevant the available information is, the better the decision is likely to be, whether made by an individual or by a group.
4. The most difficult decisions tend to be made amidst a crisis; in an ER, for example, or during a battle. A leader must often make a decision without hesitation or benefit of consultation with others.
5. I hasten to add that, although that decision will not be based on collective judgment, it will be based on collective experience.
Here’s a direct link to my review of Judgment Calls.