Alignment of different perspectives in decision making

I regularly travel up to London from Brighton, usually on the delightful train service that is called the Gatwick Express. It does go to Gatwick Airport but I think the term “express’’ might be construed as a ‘misleading action’ under ‘The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008’.

The trip up to town is fascinating. There are two types of people on board, those commuting to London and those getting off at Gatwick to go somewhere else. Probably somewhere nicer than Gatwick. So one person’s commute is another person’s first day of their holiday.

This creates an interesting juxtaposition of contexts. The high number of travellers means the two types get mixed up and seated close to each other. So the happy folk heading off to some winter sun are right in there with the ‘head-in-laptop’, ‘hot-spot wired’, work-heads.

It’s usually quiet. Maybe because it’s early? But I’m reminded how divergent the attitudes and behaviours can be between people occupying the same physical and even cultural space.

My first boss and mentor, at the start of my consulting career, had two favourite phrases. One was; ‘Remember Nigel, what is number one on your agenda is not necessarily number one on theirs’. I come across this all the time. It helps me to prioritise my effort into understanding the differences in alignment between me and those I am working with. Also, to think creatively about how best to use those differences to good effect.

How can we bring alignment to each party’s priorities, even for a short time, so we can make some really smart decisions?

I’ll tell you about the second favourite phrase on a different day. For now I wanted to focus on ‘obtaining alignment’ as this is one facet of the Business Decision Design® approach to making better decisions at work.

How do we create alignment, between people with different drivers, for long enough to make a positive difference?

What if the train broke down? Drastic but it might well suddenly create alignment of the interests of all on board as they are all impacted in similar ways – they are going to be late – there will be consequences.

Sometimes we can use this ‘extreme scenario’ approach in workshops but it has to be credible…

So, what else can we do?

We can:

  • Create ‘space’, physical and temporal for discussion
  • Use some simple techniques to create a strong sense of ‘openness’ in the group
  • Identify and explore shared aims and objectives
  • Explore what drives priorities in each of our worlds
  • Share our views on each others’ objectives
  • Meet regularly (not necessarily frequently) to see how things evolve and;


We can be creative about how the others’ view of our world could help us to do something differently


For example;

We could each do a drawing depicting our view of the others’ day ahead. This type of ‘artistic’ exercise can produce some powerful results. And it’s a bit less dramatic than staging a train crash.

If you are adventurous enough to be open to some artistic games then our Business Decision Design® services could be of interest.


Here’s a link to the photo of that beautiful fountain.

I hope you have a day inspired by other peoples’ view of your world.


Nigel Stock

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