Authority and power in decision making
Montesquieu saw two types of governmental power existing: the sovereign and the administrative. The administrative powers were the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. These should be separate from and dependent upon each other so that the influence of any one power would not be able to exceed that of the other two, either singly or in combination. This was at its time considered radical, Montesquieu was ahead of his time.
But how does authority and power work in a multi-stakeholder decision making environment, as most organizations are today? Flat organizations are trendy, everyone gets to be decision maker but is there still more to it?
We still have executive power used by the one who owns the resources. Authority to enforce orders and ensure they are carried out as intended. This is the person who calls the shots and can make things happen.
People with a lot of subject matter expertise have a lot of power in decision making. Officials have a lot of this, they master the domain and have a lot to say when it comes to determining how to proceed. Those who truly understand the domain can influence chosen courses. Knowledge is power!
When attending a meeting, think of the agenda. Someone has put together what will be discussed, decided how the process will go, who gets to present and who will document the discussion and create the minutes. There is plenty of decision making power in process management and presenter control.
The person who wants most has the most at stake and is an active engager is powerful. A personal need, desire, and hunger for learning are strong motivators for succeeding and give a person power and will to influence decision making.
And finally, the person who knows everyone has power in making things happen. We all know these people, the ones who are most connected, work in networks, are network hubs with thousands of LinkedIn contacts and are able to build connections between people. Who knows who -power is strong today.
All of these are needed in today’s complex and fast-paced organizations. Combine authority and power, use your domain experts, bring the decision making as close to those its effecting as possible, use a designated decision making process that empowers your employees to seek solutions and improve. Remember endorse your networking hubs and concentrate in providing people room for growth. Fingertip brings the different authorities together and creates a single source of truth for your organization. I challenge you to give it a try.