August 20, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Decision Making Strategy

Janice asks: Our department needs a new operational process. We have some options. I’ve been doing this for 15+ years and I’m leaning towards just making a decision and announcing to my team. But I sense there may be some push back if I do that. How can I approach this so I have team support but can move quickly?

Tawny Lees, COO, responds:

I commend you on giving the decision making strategy some thought!  Every decision is unique in its impact on stakeholders, therefore might need a different decision making strategy.

With each decision facing you, start by taking a look the stakeholders involved.  Who will be affected by the decision? Who cares whether and how you implement? Who might block it from being implemented?  If many key stakeholders are involved, you will want to engage them in the process of decision making in order to increase buy-in and to inform the best decision.

In your situation, it sounds as if being the sole decision maker is not optimal as you risk low engagement and buy-in for the decision.  Here are two alternate decision-making strategies you can use.

  • Sole decision maker with feedback:   One person is accountable for the decision but takes input from stakeholders to inform it.  Gathering input takes more time than making the decision on your own, but stakeholders feel more involved in the process, thus their level of buy-in and empowerment in implementing it is higher.
  • Group Consensus:  When you drive for group consensus, the group is empowered to come to agreement, leading to high support of the decision.   As you can imagine, this takes more time and is best saved for decisions that require a high degree of support.

Either way you go, may it clear to others how you intend the decision to be made. Good luck!