Well, it depends.
If people are good at participating in the discussion, understand the long term goals and the principles under which we are operating the business and their arguing from the "best for all concerned" then I would definitely want tham in the discussion and am happy when they can convince me I'm wrong.
If on the other hand they don't share the same core values, are trying to improve their own position over everyone else, just want to say no and kill ideas, don't understand the full range of implications (and aren't willing to learn), then they are just a road block which isn't adding value to the discussion.
A few examples of the negative:
- We tried to include all staff of one of our startups in some discussions a few years ago. There was one trainer who couldn't understand that there wasn't infinite funds and that the money they were being paid wasn't the sum total of what they cost to run. Every time we worked through how to scale up they would add another 5 people in "because we need them" and I couldn't get it through that the costs of doing so were beyond our means and we needed to find a better solution.
- We had an account manager who was focused primarily on their own bank account today rather than the common goal of growing the company and improving all (including theirs) collectively. Thus every answer they gave was a very short term answer which burnt us longer term with clients or resource allocation. The smaller the company the more damaging a single person can be.
- We have had a developer who is intensly negative about everything, and effectively crushed any ideas before they could be fleshed out and given a chance to live. We had to leave them out of the discussions in order to progress.
A few examples of the positive:
- After a long series of discussions and failed designs, we have had developers get so into the problem they have spent their entire weekend and come in Monday morning with "how about this?" It solved the problem nicely and 10 years later is part of a much larger product suite we now sell.
- We aren't really a startup anymore, we are a 15 year old company who builds startups but we all still sit around after work 2-3 nights a week with any employees that wish to join in and discuss any and all issues, strategies, ideas and problems, collectively solving them.
So overall I think the group discussion is critical to long term success, no one person can know it all or do it all and different experience and backgrounds are vital to help navigate the near limitless set of problems and hurdles thrown at founders. But you need to choose wisely and work out who is contributing well and who is damaging the results. This is a key challenge for the leaders in any walk of life.