What if we run like h… very fast, and every time there is need for a decision, things stops. We have to line up in the queue to get decisions, wait, and when the stars are in the right position, management will approve next step. No matter if we have applied business re-engineering and have eliminated every unnecessary step in execution, if we have created fast procedures, developed supportive tools and have trained the staff to be as fast and accurate as ever possible. The result of all these efforts will have little impact on total speed, if the decision process is left unchanged and slow.
This is what you should do about it.
- Identify key type of decisions.
Decisions at a macro level are; what are the key decisions required to achieve business mission and to be efficient? It can be budget decisions, investment decisions, decisions about new products, decisions on new markets, etc. Decisions at a micro level are related to detail level process or procedures. Examples of such decision might be; are we ready to send the product to the customer, shall we add more service for same price to this customer, do we buy a coffee machine, etc.?
- Minimize number of formal decisions.
Which of the identified key decisions do you need to make as formal decisions (following a pre-defined procedure in approval systems or in put them on the agenda in decision meetings)? Ask you self, what happens if….? What is the risk of negative consequences? Is there a risk to break any laws? Can errors be corrected without damage? What happens if we delegate decision power to the ones executing the work?
- Re-engineer the decision process.
Ensure the needed formal decision procedures are designed to be as efficient as possible. Make sure to design efficient decision meetings. Decisions has to be taken as fast as possible, measured as lead time. This does not necessary mean to speed up decision meetings as such. Secure that efficient preparation of meeting is done, minimize number of participants in decision meetings, create a schedule for decision meetings to support execution, etc. Ensure that the organization will have approval systems that support high speed in decision process, minimize number of approval layers in approval system, secure that request for approval does not end up in a mailbox that is not checked regularly.
- Review and change you organization structure.
If more speed in decision process is needed, further changes to the organization structure may be needed. The more complex organization you have, the more complex decision process you will get. Gather the power to execute activities in one organization entity, minimize the need to coordinate, co-locate people working in same activities, and simplify the mission for different organization entities.
- Trust that employees will make correct decisions.
If we critically reviews decision processes, I believe many organizations have added to unnecessary controls and too many formal approvals. People in general want to make the best decisions, and will do so if they have the knowledge and the correct information needed.