DecisionsThere are two models for decision making that I want to compare today, collective and hierarchical. There are probably a billion such models, but today I'm going to limit the discussion to these two and the spectrum between them. The spectrum extends from dictatorship to democracy. Dictatorship is almost never absolute, even an absolute monarch can't rule on when his or her subjects should go to the bathroom. I can imagine some despot who might want to, but practicality intervenes when the number of subjects rises too high. Democracy is also a mix; the citizens of most modern democracies elect representatives to carry their wishes and the realities of money and power mean that almost all societies have some privileged class element. There are advantages to a hierarchical model. A smaller group can usually agree on a direction more quickly and can disseminate knowledge crucial to effective decision making more quickly and completely. A collective model allows more voices and the potential for a wider range of possibilities to consider. With more possibilities the ultimate decision has a good chance of being a better decision. Captain Henry Robert's Rules of Order are much maligned for being too complex and for polarizing issues, but, in most situations, the procedures just work. That is partly due to our familiarity with them. They compromise quality of the decision and consensus for getting the decision made in a reasonable time. Our species is part solo wolf, part herd cow, but we do manage group decisions. Even wolves communicate when they are chasing a large animal, perhaps more than the hermit human with a cabin in the desert and a manifesto, but the manifesto is sometimes read, and perhaps contributes some new ideas into the long term decision making process. You could make a moral argument that everyone should be involved in decisions because that seems to be the only way to avoid the problems of power and influence. I'm not certain of the practicality of that, however; I'm not an expert on foreign policy to take the most glaring example and my vote on the workings of the Embassy in New Zealand, would be almost certainly un-informed. An oligarchy of the educated might strike you as ideal, but even aside from the moral issues, there is the question of how much education and what area of study; most of us would object if decision makers were limited to lawyers. I'm not picking on lawyers: most of us would also object to engineers as decision makers. Any decision making process is subject to criticism. Any attempt to limit the membership of the subset who group who makes decisions is subject to problems of power and influence. An attempt to widen the membership slows down the process, and may even bring it to a halt. I almost always come down on the side of widening the membership. I'm just too suspicious of anyone who would exclude me or anyone else for that matter and too worried about our species survival in the inherently unpredictable future.
10 Mar 2015
Copyright © 2015 Truck Smith