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How to Get Real and Stop Undermining Decision Making

A recent BusinessWeek article talked about the Myths that Undermine Decision-Making. It was interesting to see where DecisionPad can be a solution to the myths.

Myth 1:  A single team makes the big decision when “reality is that decisions … are made in many forums, formal and informal”.

A complex decision is always a process not an event at any level in the organization.  Understanding of the issues (criteria in DecisionPad terminology) grows over time as various people contribute their expertise and requirements.  Normally this knowledge accumulates in a hodgepodge of notes, spreadsheets and memos by various authors that are difficult to integrate, leading to more meetings trying to make sense of them all.

By providing a consistent framework DecisionPad can help keep the process moving forward to a conclusion that includes the best of everyone’s contributions with notes as required.

DecisionPad’s sensitivity analysis can steer the discussions away from wasting time in unproductive debates once the participants see some issues cannot affect the outcome.

Myth 2: The executive team is a body of equals when “in reality some people and some functions carry much more weight than others“

When DecisionPad asks for weights on criteria it does so in terms of the decision itself, which puts the weight of inputs from department X in a less threatening light than saying department X has high or low internal status.  The former changes to fit each decision; the latter is politics.

For example, the cluster of criteria of concern to Human Resources in locating a new manufacturing facility plays a smaller role than a different cluster does in revising the whole firm’s management training program.  Everyone can relate to a difference in weights that are consistent with the decision logic for understandable, non-political reasons.

Otherwise it is easy for the decision process to become de-focused over internal issues, instead of staying focused on what will lead to a successful decision implementation.

The DecisionPad is usually set up to group criteria by functional area.  Weighting can be done within each grouping primarily by its experts while general management choses the weights between the functions.

DecisionPad encourages visibility of all the issues that are important to the decision.  Missing these because they get lost or unspoken for the status or personality reasons often lead to surprises that may cause implementation to come unraveled.  Costly in money, time and morale.

Myth 3: Team members should always adopt a CEO perspective

By getting all of the issues out on the table it is possible for people to contribute their expertise to the decision and advocate for their issues vigorously during the process, yet also be aware that there are other legitimate issues to be considered.  Focusing on their own area at this stage is not parochial because it is in context.  Everyone is being heard and recorded.

As the decision converges to a conclusion, there is no reason why the CEO perspective cannot be taken by everyone.  It need not be a myth in the end.  Having a documented decision where everyone was heard helps the people who participated explain to their peers and subordinates why it came out a particular way, building buy-in and reducing the risk of the decision being sabotaged.

Use DecisionPad to fix the process instead of trying to fix the people — quality management 101.

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