Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Finessing the decision-making process

In a recent post, I looked at the stages in the decision-making process, drawn from an HBR blog post by Su (25 May 2016).

Su also went on to talk about how we can become frustrated with colleagues who appear to habitually change their minds, often seeming to take the opinion of the last person whom they have spoken to (25 May 2016). 

When we have colleagues who appear regular decision flip-floppers, we need to realise that the problem is probably ourselves. Our colleague is probably still at step 1 in the decision-making process: "still seeking input to understand potential options", while we are expecting them to be at 3: "Have you come to a decision and are ready to inform the team on how to proceed". Understanding that different colleagues will reach decisions differently will help us make room for other processes. 

Before speaking to colleagues about where they are in the decision-making process, Su (25 May 2016) suggests four questions that we can ask of ourselves
  1. "Is this a one-off situation or a recurring pattern?
  2. "What is the impact to the business, the team, and you?
  3. "What are the risks in not having a conversation?
  4. "What are the risks in having one?"
Once we are clear about what it is that we need to know, and why, we can broach the issue. Su stresses that this must be face to face, with open sharing of our observations. For a positive outcome, our focus needs to remain on trying to understand. She provides an example (25 May 2016)
I received your email about the vendor situation and saw that it was different from what we had originally discussed. Could you help me to understand what has changed in your thinking since we were last together?” 

The tone is open, curious and listening. It probes whether something had changed since they last talked; whether there had been later conversations, new facts, interpretations, or if a shift in thinking. It adopts the role of the naive inquirer (read more about this here).

It also points out the importance about noting the decisions that have been made, and why, and sharing those notes with all who need to know. This can be done easily in OneNote on an intranet page.

Once in writing, it is easier to discuss differing perspectives.

Additionally, it would make sense when any decision is being made for people to indicate where in the decision-making process they are: at 1, 2 or 3. It will make for a great deal more clarity, and much less frustration in or organisations.


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