Choose “considered judgment” over “raw opinion”

IMG_1365Successful leadership can sometimes be reduced to a small number of fundamental choices. Once those choices are made, they guide decisions and behavior in dozens of situations each week.

One of those choices is between “considered judgement” and “raw opinion.”

Considered judgment” means that we carefully consider the complexity of the problems we face and weigh the possible intended and unintended consequences of alternative solutions.

Considered judgment is often achieved when groups slow down the problem-solving process to fully understand the problem, consider the costs and benefits of various possible solutions, and choose the best-possible course of action.

“Raw opinion” means responding to problems with the first idea that comes to mind, which often then leads to defending that point of view with strong emotion. Many social and professional conversations, unfortunately, consist of individuals sharing and defending  raw opinions regarding poorly-defined problems and vaguely-understood solutions.

Considered judgment offers several benefits:

• Because decision making is slowed down and issues are fully explored, participants are able to make informed commitments to a course of action, commitments which are more likely to be long-term.

• Because decision making is transparent, trust is increased.

• Because important decisions are carefully considered, resources are far more likely to be invested wisely.

Considered judgment is demanding. It asks participants to be open to and explore alternative points of view. It requires that they thoughtfully weigh evidence and seek consensus on a course of action.

But when school communities understand the benefits of considered judgment and use various problem-finding tools and decision-making protocols to support their work, students will be the beneficiaries.

[A note to readers: My blog will be taking an Easter-week break and will resume on Tuesday, April 9, 2013.]

2 Responses to “Choose “considered judgment” over “raw opinion””


  1. 1 Jamie March 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I love your thinking on this, Dennis. It was a big lesson for me as a school principal. I found Susan Scott’s model for Beach Ball conversations (from Fierce Conversations) to be a great tool in helping folks to have input in a transparent and productive way. It focused the conversation and helped avoid soap-boxing of views that weren’t grounded in the reality of the situation.

  2. 2 Dennis Sparks March 28, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks, Jamie… I love the phrase you used: “have input in a transparent and productive way.”


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