The ideal decision making process

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Day 706 This idea is not mine but Andy Groove’s former CEO of Intel. In his book High Output Management, written in the 80’s, he describes how to create a successful organization and goes through all aspects of management and leadership. For a long time, it has been a model and still is in many aspects, whether you are in manufacturing or not. On all the concepts he describes, the decision-making one is so elegant and simple, it’s the best I came to see. It is described through three steps:

  1. Free discussion. This is probably the most important step. All parties that need to come to a decision need to speak up. They need to provide their concerns and ideas. Free speech is essential and everyone needs to go as deep as possible. Nothing should be left on the table. If the ideas exchange is too shallow, the decision risks to be not that well accepted.
  2. Clear decision. Because the discussion has been to the right depth, consensus is reached with the right balance, having heard all parties.
  3. Full support. Once again, because a consensus has been found and a decision made, all parties need to support the action following the decision. If something has not been said, or things have been left on the table because somebody did not spoke up, it may be necessary to go back to the free discussion step. Pay attention though to not end into an analysis-paralysis infinite loop. Trade-offs have to be made sometimes.

The interesting piece about this process is the first step. Free speech is essential, therefore the leader of the discussion has to ensure all parties are heard and has to establish a trust environment. If trust is not present, some persons may not feel right to speak up, they may fear retaliation if they disagree. The leader does not have to impose his/her idea but let all parties to talk. It may end up by a decision that is at the opposite to what the leader of the discussion thought at the beginning. So be it, if it’s the best consensus found.

I am not sure though all companies or group of leaders are ready for this kind of decision-making process. However, to evolve into a growth mindset, this kind of behavior is essential and will contribute to better decision and a more pleasant work environment. Once again, simple, not easy!

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