It may come as no surprise that if you search the term ‘decision-making’ on the internet, it doesn’t throw up just one framework or methodology, but, well … umpteen. In fact, it’s quite a decision to decide which ones to read.
Just searching the term RACI reveals the following deviations and variations. RACI, RASI, RASCI, RACI-VS, RACIQ and our personal favourite (just for the way it sounds), RASCEIO. Isn’t that one of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan?
Now we don’t intend to get involved in the politics of Brexit in this article. After all, we are doing everything we can to retain and build our readership, rather than conspire to drive people away. However, here’s a little help for those closely involved in the decision-making process and for those involved from a distance too; either as bemused observers, interested stakeholders or comedians seeking new material.
Whatever Brexit may represent to you, one thing we can all be sure of is that after a long decision-making process, involving a huge number of people, it did not happen on time.
The deadline has come and gone and we’re no clearer on the next steps. Now that is certainly a familiar story in business and one that affects us all.
So, what can help us to make better decisions, or perhaps more timely ones?
The Cynefin Model
In an article for HBR, David J. Snowden and Mary E. Boone suggest that understanding the kind of problem you’re solving is a key starting point. They describe a framework which Snowden and a team at IBM developed, which must be one of the very few to have a Welsh title. Cynefin
Ref: Cynefin model. Dave Snowden (1999) IBM.
It sets problems into what he described as a ‘sense-making’ model rather than categorizing model. So, how might this help us everyday?
What kind of decisions are you trying to make?
If you are deciding where to hold your conference or which external speaker to book then this is ‘simple’, according to Cynefin. Weigh up the pros and cons, set a deadline for the decision and once made, go ahead with the arrangements.
If it’s simple, keep it simple. However, if the challenge is to shift behaviours and ways of working and you wish to bring that problem to life through experiential activities, you can’t expect to arrive at a ‘decision’ quickly or simply. This kind of solution takes time, because the problem is ‘complicated’ and requires deeper analysis. Be realistic about how much time it should take and plan accordingly.
According to Cynefin, it also requires experts, so if you’re looking for someone to bring complicated content to life, then remember to get in touch.
Who is making the Decision?
So, we know the context and the kind of decisions that need to be made, but who is going to make them? This can be the most complicated part of the process.
In large organizations, this problem can seem insurmountable, as there is no agreement about which function/region/individual has the authority to make a decision.
On one occasion we had stepped through the whole proposal, pitch and contract process before discovering that the person with the financial authority had never actually been told about the planned conference, at all.
It turned out that everyone was so scared of the individual, they dared not tell him. Thankfully the work went ahead, but that was only because, in the end, WE told him!
Having confidence to make the decision.
Finding out who approves or signs-off is something that can prove very elusive. We’re working with a client who has a useful framework in this regard, crafted specifically to fit their values.
Their company-specific framework focuses on knowing who has the ‘D’ for decision-making and endeavouring to make that transparent to everyone.
It may not be the most senior person, nor even the budget holder. It could be a number of people, such as a project board or steering group, but whoever it is, everyone needs to know. Other people can still be consulted or give advice or be in the information pool and so on, but the certainty is that they are NOT the ‘D’.
Since using this framework, and the nomenclature of the ‘D’, the company concerned has turned the corner in the speed and efficiency of their previously ponderous decision-making process. It’s more than a happy coincidence that they are also growing the company successfully too.
The fear that important business decisions, strategic and financial, will be held up, is slowly dissipating.
Do you need help bringing your decision-making process to life?
We are experts in bringing to life complex concepts and this can include helping people to understand the impact of the existing decision-making culture.