Decisions Decisions

decision cubeWhen “one size fits all” is not the right answer, someone somewhere will need to decide what to do next.   Transitioning from a standard answer to a decision-making model must consider past practice, employee knowledge, number of people involved  and decision-making skills.  If the transition plan sounds like this “We’ll get rid of the requirement and the folks working the process can decide if it’s needed,” you may find that your process standards might be in jeopardy.   Here’s an example . . .  People have been driving the highways for many years and understand how to drive safely.  So let’s get rid of the speed limit and let people decide what’s right.   Yikes!   Those who have been driving for many years might be able to make the right decision.  But without decision-making guidelines, everyone is left to their own experience.   And as older drivers leave the road and less experienced drivers take the wheel, decisions will be less based on experience and more on training.   It’s the same for work processes.  In order to successfully relax “one size fits all” procedures and increase decision-making you should consider the following:

  1. Cultural norms:  If things have been done a certain way for years, it will be hard for employees to make a decision to do something else.  Why?  The risk of being wrong.   Good change management practices can  help with the transition.  Decision-makers will need to understand why it is OK to do things differently and feel comfortable that doing things differently will achieve a positive result.  Fear of making the wrong decision or causing an error may drive employees to default to the ‘one size fits all model’ and in the end, nothing changes.
  2.  Expertise and Experience:  Employees who have extensive expertise and experience will be more comfortable making a decision. But not everyone may have the right level of knowledge to make the right decision.  In order to gain this level of expertise, training programs may need to be revised to increase specific knowledge level needed to enable experience-based decision-making.
  3. Decision-making Skills:  Making good decisions is a skill.   Decisions need to be based on actions versus consequences.   Understanding good work practices and risk and how this plays into decision-making can help employees make better decision.

Transitioning from a ‘one size fits all’ process to a decision-making model may require increased training, better decision-making skills and the right cultural norms.   Is your organization ready for the transition?  That’s your 1st decision!