How to eliminate complexity in decision making

by | Nov 21, 2018

For more and more people in our digital era, making decisions is a key responsibility. In my career as a business coach and advisor during the last twenty years, I have seen highly engaged C-level executives, directors and managers who even assumed it was their duty to make or at least judge almost every decision. They often felt the need to rescue a colleague from making a huge mistake. During the day they were immersed in a lot of business questions. These questions all needed good decisions fast and seemed to randomly pop-up from their employees.

© Image by ammentorp

© Image by ammentorp

For more and more people in our digital era, making decisions is a key responsibility. In my career as a business coach and advisor during the last twenty years, I have seen highly engaged C-level executives, directors and managers who even assumed it was their duty to make or at least judge almost every decision. They often felt the need to rescue a colleague from making a huge mistake. During the day they were immersed in a lot of business questions. These questions all needed good decisions fast and seemed to randomly pop-up from their employees.

What are the costs of good decision making

What defines a good decision? Knowing that most likely with one decision you cannot reach all of your objectives and make everybody happy. To satisfy your stakeholders, scale up your business and launch new products on time, decisions also have to be made fast. And on top of that every day there is more and more decision making information available, especially through machine learning. Meaning you almost have to be a superhero to keep up with this new reality. Making good decisions does not come for free, it will impact your time, energy, power and autonomy.

Time and energy

Making a lot of strategic and operational decisions during a day drains your energy. Knowing that decision-making errors can have a huge negative impact, making a good decision is something that takes a lot of your attention and time.

Power and autonomy

Decision making, power and autonomy are also related. For some employees it is a comforting thought, knowing that somebody will always review their work. For other employees, having no power and autonomy, is a terrible thought. Giving some of your power and autonomy to willing and capable employees, will give you besides time and energy, also more engaged employees back. In other words making all decisions by yourself has a negative impact on the power, autonomy and engagement of your willing and capable employees.

Is the decision yours to make?

Before making a decision the very first question is: how do you know if a decision is yours to make? Just listening to your ego, will most likely lead to a lot of decisions you feel you have to make. Also some decisions will be made anyway. So, try to start by assuming that a decision is not yours to make and find the most logical department within your organization to make the decision. If you can not find a department or colleague, answer the question if there should be a department or colleague for making this decision. If the answer is that you are accountable for making the decision, look at how you can eliminate complexity in decision making.

Three ways to eliminate complexity in decision making
1. Delegate decisions

Delegating a decision is giving power and autonomy to where it makes sense. Delegating a customer related decision from the C-level to the frontline for example is a win-win. Meaning the C-level executive can focus more on strategic decisions like approving the launch of a new product and the frontline can focus more on solving daily customer frustrations and satisfying daily customer needs.

2. Simplify decisions

Some decisions you don’t want to delegate or automate. Your goal should be to make every decision and the decision making process as simple as possible. The simplest decision has only one decision parameter, one decision outcome, has a positive impact on your objectives, makes all your stakeholders happy and is made on time Of course this is not very realistic. So the challenges is to find out which objectives and stakeholders will be impacted, how to create an efficient and effective decision making process and on which parameter(s) your decision outcome depends the most?

3. Automate decisions

Some decisions will be automated whether you like it or not. More and more decision making information will be available in information systems. The challenge is to understand how relevant automated decisions are made and keep understanding how they will be made. Identifying the relevant decisions and their critical decision criteria are a first step.

How do you eliminate complexity in decision making?

Eliminating complexity in decision making starts with democratize decision making information. Meaning to make decision making information available within your organization. With this information more decisions can be delegated, simplified or automated. So, stop wasting time on making every decision yourself and start democratizing decision making information today.

Please share your thoughts on how you eliminate decision making in your organization?

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