Fast inclusive decision making - some thoughts

Recent search has concluded that quick decision making provides better results as long as appropriate team members are involved or at the very least are kept informed (inclusive).

So why quick decision making? Why Inclusive?

The depth of challenges that new leaders are forced to deal with on a daily basis are ever increasing. Despite this fact, leaders are not expected to be experts in all things. The one thing that leaders are expected to have is effective decision making.

Many problems require a solution that impacts upon multiple people and locations, the leaders responsibility is often to make such decisions across the team or company. Doing so without sufficient consolation is tempting but not ideal.

Alternatively, I have seen leaders who try to put off decisions hoping they will get more information to make it easier. Unfortunately, while they are looking for more information, the team members are sitting on their hands waiting for direction.

Failing to take action on an obvious issue is just as bad (if not worse) than making a bad decision or failing to include team members in the discussion.

Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, is famous for his 40-70 rule. He said that a leader should make a decision when he has between 40% and 70% of the information available.

If they make the decision with less than 40% of the information, they are reacting without careful consideration and possibly appropriate levels of consultation. But waiting for more than 70% of the information delays the decision unnecessarily.

Making any of these mistakes (too soon, too late or no involvement) demoralises the team members and can hurt team productivity.

Your job as leader is to make the tough calls; don’t wait too long to pull the trigger. The leader is responsible not just for any decisions that they make, but also for any decisions that they do not make.

Everyone else in the team can pass on accountability from time to time, but the leader must be prepared to make the final decision when no one else will or can.

One might say “Ready Fire Aim”. ‘Ready’ is consulting the team members and gathering up to 40% of the information. ‘Fire’ is the decision gets made. ‘Aim’ is monitor and adapt as we go.

Author: Peter Robinson
Team Leadership Services