When a leader asks for input and then makes a decision, the result is vivid color, i.e. a better decision. It is a better decision for lots of reasons.

First and foremost, your team feels valued when they are asked to participate in the decision process.

Second, there is value in the wisdom of crowds, many times the group will surface ideas that the leader hasn’t thought about. As a Vistage Chair and leadership coach, I see this happen each month during the executive sessions  I lead  with CEOs and Key Executives.  This, of course, is why 15,000 people around the world are members of Vistage – because we know the value of seeking input from others.

Where it all goes awry, is when we seek consensus either from our team or from our Vistage group (or our family, friends, book club, etc).  With consensus all the colors get mixed together, resulting in a dull beige, i.e. a mediocre, watered down decision.

Next time you are asking for input, ask yourself  if what you want is color. And, if it is color you want, don’t settle for beige.  Make the final decision yourself.

Elisa K. Spain


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  • Robert J. Sobel, M.D.


    Interesting point. Current pressures in health care are to follow consensus guidelines. Unfortunately, they have a tendency to follow the beige rule, or even worse, they get very muddy very quickly. Multiple details and options in the analysis, then simple recommendations that often obscure the nuances. My fear of cookbook medicine remains strong, especially if we bureaucratize the second guessing with the quality care initiatives that are all the rage (at least among big entities that employ health care providers). The independence that has characterized small physician practices has contributed vibrancy to our modern health care. My analysis is that while there is a cost drive to fee for service, it is the perversions created by multiple factors (specialty growth driven by higher reimbursement than primary care, new technologies with cost acceleration that does not abide by usual market forces, an antagonistic for profit insurance industry). The reforms of the ACA have not yet addressed these factors, but they have accelerated industry consolidation. I’m not sure we’ll be pleased with the resulting beige health care system.

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