A team is having trouble making a decision and someone says, “Let’s take a vote.” It’s a solution that’s simple and fast, but it’s often the wrong tool for the job. Even worse, it can kill your team.
Teams function best when every member is bought into its mission. The vote, like a larger poll or survey, counts how many individuals are behind each option. By design, it is not inclusive, as it focuses on divisions and categorization.
It even drives entrenchment. By asking each member to pick a singular alternative, you’re pushing them to emotionally commit to a direction before you’ve even started to build consensus. This can only decrease the ultimate buy-in among team members who don’t vote for the winning option.
So by taking a vote, you’ve virtually guaranteed division among your team: Leaving a significant percentage of the group feeling left out and unheard, their support for the outcome is destined to be half-hearted and inconsistent. And although you’ve identified the most popular answer, it’s often not the solution that maximizes support from your team. Yes, the team may eventually reach its goal, but it will take longer than it should and team members won’t feel happy in the journey or about arriving at the destination.
Fortunately there is an alternative to simple votes and polls. It’s modeled after methods used in nature to quickly find consensus in groups – forming “swarms”.
“Swarming” changes the paradigm for group action from picking the most popular choice to enabling a group to work as a unified system and find an optimal answer. And to do so easily and quickly and in a manner that is inclusive and empowering.
Swarming is enabled by the UNU software platform, a free online environment where teams can answer questions the way swarms do in nature. The real-time nature of UNU, in which all participants work in synchrony, gives every participant a heightened sense of agency, not only being a contributor to the decision-making process but also having a real influence on the outcome. Users report overwhelmingly that they are not only satisfied with the answer that the group arrived at, but that they “felt like a consequential member of the group” during the decision-making process.
When a team “takes a vote” as its methodology for moving forward, it is not just picking the wrong tool for the job, it is breaking down the long-term efficacy of the team by crystalizing divisions and entrenching dissatisfaction.
It’s the difference between a group and a team. A group is a collection of individuals, each focused on their own imperatives first. A team functions as a unified whole, working together to achieve success. Polls and votes are great for understanding the variety of opinions within a group, but swarms enables a team to speak with one voice.
If you would like to see how your team (or group) performs using UNU, join our Beta program.