In a recent blog, I presented a partially tongue-in-cheek logic tree for how I approach decision making. Basically, I allow my judgment of the importance or materiality of the decision to determine how much time and effort to put into the decision making. However, while I stand by that as a sound method for entering the decision making process, it does not guide the actual decision making.
- Frame the Issue: What is really at stake? How will we judge a successful outcome? Are we deciding what to recommend or what to implement?
- Establish the Decision Infrastructure: Who should be involved, and of those, who can comment on which issues? When is the decision deadline? How will we decide – leader decides, issue owner decides after consulting with stakeholders, majority decides, unanimous consensus, or conditional decision (leader intervenes if group can’t reach consensus or majority)? Where shall we meet, and how often? Note: the Harvard book reverses these two points, but I believe it is not possible to build the correct Decision Infrastructure without knowing the Frame. In the end, one team may need to weigh in on Frame, another on the actual deciding.
- Identify Alternatives: if there are not distinct options, then the decision is simply Go/No Go.
- Evaluate the Alternatives: Financials, trade-offs, priorities, risk/reward… Decision criteria should be determined by the Frame.
- Communicate: Recognize contributions of all members, inform stakeholders, and explain rationale, implications, and requirements.
- Implement: Harvard states this is not part of the decision process, but we disagree. A decision without an action plan that includes metrics, accountabilities, process, and priorities is a half-baked decision