The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision Model

Deciding How to Decide

The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision Model

© iStockphoto

How you go about making a decision can involve as many choices as the decision itself. Sometimes you have to take charge and decide what to do on your own. Other times it's better to make a decision using group consensus. How do you decide which approach to use?

Making good decisions is one of the main leadership tasks. Part of doing this is determining the most efficient and effective means of reaching the decision.

You don't want to make autocratic decisions when team acceptance is crucial for a successful outcome. Nor do you want be involving your team in every decision you make, because that is an ineffective use of time and resources. What this means is you have to adapt your leadership style to the situation and decision you are facing. Autocratic styles work some of the time, highly participative styles work at other times, and various combinations of the two work best in the times in between.

The Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision Model provides a useful framework for identifying the best leadership style to adopt for the situation you're in.

Note:

This model was originally described by Victor Vroom and Philip Yetton in their 1973 book titled Leadership and Decision Making. Later in 1988, Vroom and Arthur Jago, replaced the decision tree system of the original model with an expert system based on mathematics. Hence you will see the model called Vroom-Yetton, Vroom-Jago, and Vroom-Yetton-Jago. The model here is based on the Vroom-Jago version of the model.

Understanding the Model

When you sit down to make a decision, your style, and the degree of participation you need to get from your team, are affected by three main factors:

  • Decision Quality – how important is it to come up with the "right" solution? The higher the quality of the decision needed, the more you should involve other people in the decision.
  • Subordinate Commitment – how important is it that your team and others buy into the decision? When teammates need to embrace the decision you should increase the participation levels.
  • Time Constraints – How much time do you have to make the decision? The more time you have, the more you have the luxury of including others, and of using the decision as an opportunity for teambuilding.

Specific Leadership Styles

The way that these factors impact on you helps you determine the best leadership and decision-making style to use. Vroom-Jago distinguishes three styles of leadership, and five different processes of decision-making that you can consider using:

Style:

Autocratic – you make the decision and inform others of it.

There are two separate processes for decision making in an autocratic style:

Processes: Autocratic 1(A1) – you use the information you already have and make the decision
Autocratic 2 (A2) – you ask team members for specific information and once you have it, you make the decision. Here you don't necessarily tell them what the information is needed for.
Style: Consultative – you gather information from the team and other and then make the decision.
Processes: Consultative 1 (C1) – you inform team members of what you're doing and may individually ask opinions, however, the group is not brought together for discussion. You make the decision.
Consultative 2 (C2) – you are responsible for making the decision, however, you get together as a group to discuss the situation, hear other perspectives, and solicit suggestions.
Style: Collaborative – you and your team work together to reach a consensus.
Process: Group (G2) – The team makes a decision together. Your role is mostly facilitative and you help the team come to a final decision that everyone agrees on.

Table 2.1 Decision Methods for Group and Individual Problems. From "Leadership and Decision-Making," by Victor H. Vroom and Philip W. Yetton. © 1973. All rights are controlled by University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Tip:

This is a useful model, but it's quite complex and long-winded. Use it in new situations, or in ones which have unusual characteristics: Using it, you'll quickly get an feel for the right approach to use in more usual circumstances.

To determine which of these styles and processes is most appropriate, there is a series of yes/no questions that you ask yourself about the situation, and building a decision tree based on the responses. There are seven questions in total.

These are:

  1. Is the technical quality of the decision very important? Meaning, are the consequences of failure significant?
  2. Does a successful outcome depend on your team members' commitment to the decision? Must there be buy-in for the solution to work?
  3. Do you have sufficient information to be able to make the decision on your own?
  4. Is the problem well-structured so that you can easily understand what needs to be addressed and what defines a good solution?
  5. Are you reasonably sure that your team will accept your decision even if you make it yourself?
  6. Are the goals of the team consistent with the goals the organization has set to define a successful solution?
  7. Will there likely be conflict among the team as to which solution is best?

Use Figure 1 below to follow your answers through on the decision tree and identify the best decision process for your circumstances. Not that in some scenarios, you don't need to

Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision Model Diagram

In general, a consultative or collaborative style is most appropriate when:

  • You need information from others to solve a problem.
  • The problem definition isn't clear.
  • Team members' buy-in to the decision is important.
  • You have enough time to manage a group decision.

An autocratic style is most efficient when:

  • You have more expertise on the subject than others.
  • You are confident about acting alone.
  • The team will accept your decision.
  • There is little time available.

Key Points

The underlying assumption of the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision Models is that no one leadership style or decision making process fits all situations.

By analyzing the situation and evaluating the problem based on time, team buy-in, and decision quality, a conclusion about which style best fits the situation can be made. The model defines a very logical approach to which style to adopt and is useful for managers and leaders who are trying to balance the benefits of participative management with the need to make decisions effectively.

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Comments (10)
  • srivari2015 wrote This week
    good
  • Dianna wrote Over a month ago
    Thanks for the feedback. Hopefully you will be able to find an application for the tool in the future! We never stop learning and these are the sorts of tools that help us get better at the things we do on a regular basis.

    Welcome to the forums!!
    Dianna
  • mgregory wrote Over a month ago
    This model is actually really interesting. It appears it avoids the impact of stagnant activity that occurs during implementation projects. That is that all decisions should not be based upon the group consensus unless it is truly necessary. Wish I had reviewed this article during our system implementation a couple years back.

    Nice read!
  • zuni wrote Over a month ago
    Hi all,

    The Vroom-Yetton decision model is the basis of a number of decision models available through consulting firms today. I was introduced to a variation of the model in a workshop I attended some time ago on facilitating change through the organization "Interaction Associates'.

    The founders of Interaction Associates are the grand daddies of effective meeting management, facilitation and collaborative processes. David Straus and Michael Doyle have also written two books that outline their methodology. Within their books you will find a simplified version of Vroom-Yetten that is much more user friendly. I use it all the time as part in meetings to help the participants determine how decisions will be made.

    Zuni
  • Yolande wrote Over a month ago
    Hi nicky_d

    Welcome to the Career Excellence Club and welcome to the forums as well. Thanks for sharing your resource with us. If there is anything we can help you with round the club, please don't hesitate to let us know. We look forward to seeing you on the forums often as this is where we all help and learn from one another.

    Kind regards
    Yolandé
  • nicky_d wrote Over a month ago
    Hi

    Have just looked at bCisive and ikt looks very similar to Compendium compendium.open.ac.uk/institute/about.htm which is free.
  • Dianna wrote Over a month ago
    Hi Stuart,

    A friend of mine told me her professor had mentioned it and wondered if I knew anything about it. I did a quick Internet search at the time - it's a tool for figuring out whether your rationale is reasonable. It examines and supports critical thinking. There's another product by the same company (bCisive?) that helps evaluate business decisions using the rules of logic and critical thinking.

    They both sound very interesting. Hopefully someone here has some experience using the product. How did you hear of it? Do you use any of austhink's other products?

    Great to hear from you by the way and welcome to the forums! Let me know if there's anything I can do to help you get the most from the Club.

    Dianna
  • stuartc27 wrote Over a month ago
    I don't have a prem membership so I can't see the Vroom- article so I hope I am not mis-posting, however I think it is worth posting about an interesting company and their approach to decision and argument mapping. As the Vroom- models address style and level of involvement, the austhink Rationale product brings a tactical and interesting tool to the process of decision making. Has anybody else seen or used this product ?
  • Yolande wrote Over a month ago
    Hi divinefavour

    A warm welcome to the Career Excellence Club and it's great that you have already found something useful and made your first posting as well.

    If you would like to bounce some ideas around or post some challenges you may be experiencing, do go ahead and do so on one of the forums such as the Career Cafe Central. The forums are where we all help and learn from one another and you are bound to get replies from all over the globe!

    Should you need anything specific from the club, please let me know. Part of my role here is to help you get as much from the club as possible.

    I look forward to seeing you round!
    Regards
    Yolandé
  • divinefavour wrote Over a month ago
    Dear Mind Tools,

    Thank God i registered to be part of this club.

    Just by carefully going through the VRoom-Jetton-Jago Decision Model i discovered and knew the types of leadership styles and approaches people adopt. It was really educative and inspirational.

    I am certain that i have more than enough to learn from this club.

    Thanks

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