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decision making

When Decision Making is Clear, Change Follows

I have been working with organizations that are changing their operating model. Their new structures, processes and approaches have been designed to make them more focused, faster and efficient.

There are many drivers of this type of change including new mindsets, roles, relationships, skills, behaviours and systems. A focus of change management is to help people understand and commit to new ways of working so they can fulfil their new roles.

The change management plan answers the question, “How will people understand what is changing, why it is good to do so and how will I work differently under the new operation model. Town halls meetings, written and video communication, new team awareness sessions and process and skills training are common activities to achieve this objective.

It became clear this week is that decision making is the most important aspect of the transition that needs to be decided and communicated–who makes them, who is accountable for providing inputs, what process will be followed and how they are communicated. All other aspects of the change are connected to this aspect of organizational governance.

Some organizations have shied away from clarity on decision rights. The momentary harmony of ambiguity is more compelling than executional precision. An initial false sense of alignment is created until opposing positions arise and the organization slows down. Without clear guidance, outcomes are determined as much by personal power than organizational design.

Many organizations are now identifying  the need for clear decision making governance. They are investing time and resources to define and communicate how decisions will be taken on everything from strategic priorities to expense approvals.

For each key process, they define: 

  • What decisions need to be taken?
  • Who owns the decision (who makes the final call)?
  • Who participates in making the decision–who provides input, is consulted and is informed?
  • What forums are they made in?
  • How are the decisions acted upon?
  • How will they be measured?

These details may seem obvious but often they are missed, especially the forums in which decisions are made. When this is unclear, decisions can be made to early, without proper input or participation. 

The most important aspect of new ways of working is decision making. When that is clear, people know how to get things done. When that is clear, the other drivers of change quickly follow.


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