The Whirlpool of Inclusion

The Whirlpool of Inclusion

The more leadership you get, the more conversations about a decision are to be had.

When you’re a lowly intern (we love all of our hardworking interns out there), you answer to one person, the boss. You have a convo about a decision, discuss it, maybe get some advice from a colleague. Then you decide.

But when you get promoted a few times and you’re running a division of the company, things aren't so straightforward.

Let’s say you need to make a decision on a new piece of software for your growing company. You need to include the other decision makers who are running their divisions because they’ll all need to learn how to use the software.

After you’ve gone through a demo with the software company, you’re keen to buy. But now you to give a demo to the other decision makers.

Then, in some companies, you have people who want to be included on the idea, even though it doesn’t pertain to them 100%. They still want to be in-the-know. They want to be included.

Bogged Down

The problem with including everyone is that this hits critical mass at some point. For me, it’s around 3 people. I feel claustrophobic and stressed once I’ve had a conversation with someone and then regurgitated the same conversation two more times.

Then I get left field advice like, "Well, be sure to include so-and-so…"

After going out to left field and including so-and-so, I begin receiving reports with the same answer back to me. “Yes, sounds good to us, but be sure to also include so-and-so on this too..."

I’ve had enough.

This is similar to the Chasm of Email Carbon Copy (cc). It creates a whirlpool of follow-ups, follow throughs, and spiraling conversations to the land of non-production.

  • To stop this, get this decision on the key decision makers’ radar from Step 1.
  • Then, be clear about who’s taking responsibility for the decision, what you will include your advisors on, and what you do not need help with. "I want you to look at 1…2…3, but ultimately I will make the decision with your input in mind."
  • Include them on regular communication updates (email, Slack chat, whatsapp group, or whatever your company uses).
  • Then finally, own the process. If someone starts throwing your decision making process into the Whirlpool of Inclusion. Pull them aside and make things clear immediately.

And if you’re the one always wanting to be included, turn yourself into an indispensable member of the team and soon you’ll be included so much you’ll have to start turning down invitations into the whirlpool.

(photo via paul townsend)