Companies face unprecedented business pressures that require both speed and agility. To succeed, their decision-making velocity must increase.
4. Consensus decision-making is best. The ease with which people acknowledge the elephant in the room is a reflection of your culture. Making a decision isn’t about everyone agreeing. It's about everyone aligning. It's about properly weighing the risks and benefits and then taking an educated stand. In a culture where workers are open to others' opinions, where transparency is valued, and where individuals feel accepted for who they are, there is more willingness to address the elephant. Getting uncomfortable is important for organizational transformation. Smart companies foster an environment that make the uncomfortable comfortable.
5. Processes are aligned with the decision—and approval must be swift. Once decision-making has sped up, review your processes to ensure they aren’t hampering swift execution. To start, eliminate all unnecessary approvals (i.e., rubber stamps). An easy way to find out if you've become a rubber stamp factory is to track rejections. If you have zero rejections in a step, consider eliminating it. Also, when higher-level authorization is required, approval must be swift. If approval is slow, cynicism builds as workers realize those on top say they want speed and agility, but do not act that way themselves. Moreover, executive behavior is the strongest form of communication. Slow approvals, therefore, send an unambiguous message to the organization: The work is not a priority.
Now let's return to the idea that a decision is actually about two decisions. Rowing together is an analogy often used when people talk about getting behind decisions. Many people confuse getting behind something with agreeing with it. They are not always synonymous.
Rowing is essential for progress because it takes something out of ideation (like a strategy) and gives it legs (execution) where you can begin seeing results. The more you hem and haw about your support for a decision, the more likely it is that you won’t execute on a stated strategy, which doesn’t benefit anyone. Galvanized support is very powerful and will make you more competitive because your entire organization is focused on executing.
Ultimately, behavior counts. Your decision speed is a reflection of your culture, and the behavioral norms that may have served you well at one point in the past, may not be serving your needs today. Take time to look in the organizational mirror and then take even more time to reflect upon what you see.
About the Authors
S. A. Schulz has led teams in the IT industry for over 20 years. She focuses on driving peak performance through cultural transformation, coaching, collaboration and decision making in line with strategic outcomes.
Frank Wander, is the founder and CEO of PeopleProductive (peopleproductive.com), and author of Transforming IT Culture, How to Use Social Intelligence, Human Factors and Collaboration to Create an IT Department That Outperforms (Wiley, 2013).
To read Frank's previous CIO Insight article, "Unlocking Your Employees' Creativity," click here.