Developing Team Decision Models
Leading up to our event last year, our event organizer asked us to make a dozen or more decisions per week (food, sponsor placement, filming vendors, microphone setup etc…).
This happens often. The expert has to ask an authority (client/boss) to make a decision.
This isn’t a good thing.
It was far easier to give her a budget, a few loose limitations (legal issues, branding) and let her use her expertise to create the best event possible. She knows far better than us.
It feels good to be asked to make a decision. You feel important. You feel your knowledge and expertise is the key ingredient to a successful outcome. You feel respected by your team.
The reality is your decisions are likely to be worse than the people on the ground (or closest to the project). Decision-fatigue sets in. It becomes a mental burden. Important decisions stack up when you’re on vacation (and even when you’re in the office). Your team feels less ownership and enthusiasm towards the project. You are perceived as a controlling micro-manager.
One goal of collaboration is pushing as many decisions as possible down the chain of command. This means resisting the urge to make a decision. Instead, you explain and discuss how to make good decisions. What data and evidence should you consider? What kind of risks are you happy to tolerate? What kind of budget and resources require approval from higher up? What kind of fail-safes need to be in place?
There will be mistakes, for sure. I’d estimate we’ve made mistakes that have cost us thousands of dollars. But that’s a pittance compared to the value of making better decisions, retaining top talent, and having a team that feels ownership over the work they do.
Don’t measure the success of decisions by singular outcomes, but whether the best possible decision was made based upon the information available at the time. If you can teach your team to make better decisions you will get better outcomes.