Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Nature of Proper Decision-Making in Councils

A friend of mine was talking a while ago about learning from others.  He shared the following example:

It reminds me of "The Shaman Exercise" -- an exercise a coworker told me about once. When someone has a problem, they stand in the middle of the circle and present the problem to the circle. The circle is composed of people from all walks of life and status in the world. Each person in the outer circle gives their analysis of the problem and a proposed solution, while the person in the center listens.
At the end, there is no resolution expected from the person in the center -- but that person walks away with far more information, a broader view of the world, and far more perspectives and angles than they could generate on their own. And ultimately decides on the answer that is right -- for them. And it may be none of the answers given in the circle. But the circle had influence.... 

In theory, that is exactly how councils in the LDS Church should function with regard to many decisions.


Mark said...

According to whom? I'm curious why you think that's the model.

Papa D said...

Every statement I have heard from church leaders about counseling in councils, including from formal training sessions for local leaders, has emphasized that leaders should seek input from council members BEFORE expressing their own initial inclinations and then use that input to make a decision - even if the decision is different than the input.

Mark, how would you describe the model?

David Johnson said...

When a leader expresses his thoughts, leanings, or opinions before seeking input he influences the others.

Papa D said...

David, that is exactly what Elder Bednar said in a world-side training session a few years ago that was focused on councils. He even added, "Duh!" after he said it.

Papa D said...

Mark, in case there is some misunderstanding, I said "in theory" (not in structural practice) and "with regard to many decisions".

I didn't mean to imply councils should sit in circles with the leader in the middle, nor did I mean to imply that there is never a place for unilateral decisions of any kind. I meant that the vast majority of things addressed in councils should include open counseling - and that the leader should solicit input before saying anything about his or her own initial inclinations or before stating a decision.

ji said...

For me, if a council leader already has an initial opinion on a matter and is seeking discussion before implementation, I think he should say what his opinion is as he is asking for the insight of others. This is called intellectual honesty. If he doesn't, then everyone else pays a game of guess what the leader is thinking, and then there are winners and losers when he finally announces his opinion.

Like you, I have heard the counsel to keep silent until after others have spoken. But is just doesn't seem right to me.

This is because we still have a problem in our council process -- we tend to have a group-think belief that only the leader's opinion is the right and valid one, the inspired one if you will -- and the necessary corollary to that is every other opinion is wrong and uninspired.

Yes, yes, yes let a council leader lead the discussion by sharing his thoughts and influencing others, even while he asks for the insight of others. As I understand, that's how it works in the Council of the Twelve -- the presiding official goes first, and then one by one from the first to the least, an then back to the leader for a decision.