A decision has been made. What is a typical reaction? A team celebrates, breathes a sigh of relief, or feels they can “check this one off the list”. Actually, no. Decision design recognizes you are still in the decision making process. It doesn’t end with the decision, even though we want to assume it does. There is still important work to be done for the decision to be implemented with excellence and you need to plan and design for this as part of your overall process.
The design of decisions considers more than the gate you pass through; it considers what happens next. Communication with clarity. Implementation with optimism. And, when necessary, Reconsideration. All of this is needed to make it a great decision.
Communication with clarity. Many people don’t realize how important this step is and simply gloss over it, allowing the game of telephone to transfer the news. If this was an ambiguous, complex decision, you need to communicate with great clarity both the decision and the consideration given. People need to understand the participatory process, the candor and rigor in the process and to understand the goals that make this a great decision. Without that clarity coming from the leader, there is potential for miscommunication to lead to doubt which undermines the implementation of the decision. The decision maker must formally communicate his decision.
Implementation with optimism. Have you ever experienced this scenario: a decision is made in a closed door conference room. As people return to their work areas, they begin to editorialize the decision,”the decision is this, but I don’t think it will work because of that.” I have even seen people go so far as to start to undo the decision by creating more work, workarounds, or not implementing entire components of the decision, without the leader knowing until it is too late. This has derailed more than one great decision, costing a business time and money. It is doubt and pessimism shrouded in a desire to help. With decision design, the process has allowed the doubt and pessimism to be heard, to be considered in relationship to all other considerations. The decision maker has not tried to avoid the candor, she invites it in, at the correct time, before the decision is made. Her decision reflects it. What is expected, and in my experience, can be done now, is for all to move enthusiastically to making this decision great. We are aware of the concerns and we have decided. Let’s work together to make it great.
Reconsideration. This is different than the unraveling that can occur from pessimism and doubt. Reconsideration is a designed part of a great decision process and it happens in the beginning of the process as you are collaborating with your team to understand all the issues/concerns. As part of the collaboration, it is important to understand what triggers or signals in the marketplace would cause you to reconsider your decision. Once identified, you can implement monitoring of these key factors to let you know when you need to re-engage. Don’t confuse implementing with optimism with blindly implementing a decision. Part of the optimism is that you have empowered yourself and the team to take action on any meaningful change. This contingency planning is another positive for engendering implementation with optimism.
In summary, decision design leverages the tools of decision thinking with business discipline to make complex and ambiguous decision great. There are several considerations:
- Co-Creating & Framing the Decision
- Deciding (there is one decision maker)
- Communicating with Clarity
- Implementing with Optimism
- Monitoring Triggers for Reconsideration & Acting Swiftly, if necessary.