The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Decisions and their consequences

It’s rare to be able to make a decision that only implies you. In one way or the other, it will impact others. What’s possible though is to make a decision and decide that you’ll be responsible for the consequences if things don’t work out. It’s not a guaranty for things to be ok in that event, especially not, if you don’t have the authority to make yourself responsible.

Things are different if you can make a decision which is agreed upon by all. What’s often less clear is, what happens when the decision isn’t implemented as planned. In principle, responsibility is shared. But things will not work out if the consequences of a failed implementation have not been clarified.

And it’s often the case. It happens for example if one part of the group wants something and the other part of the group decides to give in. It’s a combination of an effort to please the others and a fear of conflicts. Sadly it usually only postpones the conflict.

Almost everyone has heard about a family in which the children wanted a dog. When children come up with this idea and wish it becomes challenging for the family. One part of the family dreams and hopes for the dog, the other part of the family dreads the consequences. And as the children continue to ask the chosen decision regularly becomes “the children agree to care for the dog”. The implicit knowledge parents have, is that it won’t work out. When that moment comes, they either give in and complain or try to discipline the children to remind them of the agreement. Both approaches lead to frustration in the assumption that the agreement has not been kept as planned.

But that’s not the real problem.

The problem was created by the decision.

By keeping one part of the group responsible, the expectation was that it would follow up. The decision made the whole group dependent on the successful implementation of that decision. It either lacked a backup plan on what to do in that event or lacked commitment from the whole group.


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