DECISION MAKING.
Teams of people make important product decisions daily. The problem is, getting to a decision can take a lot longer than it should.

3 Techniques For Effective Team Decision Making

Stuck in ‘analysis-paralysis’, circular arguments and personal views. As a result teams lose momentum on projects. The inability to decide results in wasted time, missed opportunities and strained relationships.

We need techniques to listen to all voices while reaching a decision promptly.

Preparation

Before jumping straight into the techniques. You should first categorise the decision you’re making. This helps understand how much time to spend. How deep your research. Whether it’s possible to move forward with minimal risk.

Categorise Your Decision

1. Reversible (most common)
Decisions you can develop and execute a rollback plan if insights are incorrect. These decisions follow:

  • Plan
  • Test
  • Implement
  • Track
  • Adjust / Rollback

2. Irreversible
People tend to treat many reversible decisions as irreversible. This prolongs the process.

Identifying a decision as irreversible is critical. If there’s no acceptable rollback. You’re unable to adjust after the decision made. Or a poor outcome will cause catastrophic results – you have an irreversible decision. These decisions follow:

 

  • Gather Insights
  • Analyse and Develop Possibilities
  • Plan Scenarios and Document Expected Outcomes
  • Segment Small Test Audience
  • Validate
  • Expand Test Audience

Common In All Techniques

  1. The team should discuss openly
  2. Everyone can express opinions without judgment
  3. Everyone agrees upfront to support the final decision
  4. When the decision is made everyone gets behind it 100%

“With any technique, you may not get everyone to feel wonderful about the decision. But once a decision is made, everyone should commit.”
Team COMPLT.

Decision Making Techniques

We start with the quickest and still effective first. Followed by more complex and in-depth.

1. Note and Vote

Everyone involved has valuable information to contribute. Everyone gets a chance to cast a vote. But, one person makes the final decision, the Decision Owner. They choose how to move forward. They can choose to go with the vote or consider the outcome and move in a different direction. They’re responsible for the decision made.

To perform this activity follow the outline below:

  1.  Provide time for the group to consider options and list ideas privately
  2. Further time is provided to select 1-2 best options from their list
  3. Share options among the group, while capturing members suggestions.
    – Each person shares a maximum of 2 suggestions
    – Suggestions are presented without a pitch or detailed reasoning
  4. Provide another allotted time period for individuals to consider suggestions presented, ask any clarifying questions and document a choice on a piece of paper
  5. Votes are tallied and the decision owner can decide

2. Majority Rule

Trying to reach consensus is the most common decision making process within teams. Though this is well intended – ensure everyone is on board.

Reaching consensus is time consuming and often impractical. The end result often doesn’t address the original need. Focus shifts to trying to please everyone.

When striving for consensus teams often find themselves in gridlock. When in gridlock – the team needs to make a conscious shift to accepting a majority decision.

Steps for efficiently finding majority:

  1. Define a time limit on discussion and debate
  2. Discuss the options in-depth. Present insights to support positions, have someone document points made,
  3. 2 rounds of discussion and presentation of alternative arguments – time limited
  4. Provide time for everyone to consider what has been presented
  5. Ask if there is consensus at the end of the 2 rounds
  6. If no consensus has been reached proceed with an anonymous vote
  7. Results are final and as initially agreed the team gets behind the decision 100%

3. It’s Complicated (DACI)

For those complicated and particularly sticky types of decisions. Where no rollback is possible or failure has unacceptable repercussions. Here we turn to DACI. An acronym, with each letter representing different roles in the framework. DACI removes confusion as to who performs each part of the process.

DACI Roles

  • Driver – Responsible for overseeing the decision as a project. Ensure all involved parties communicate and have the necessary information
  • Approver – Has the final say. Can accept or reject the decision and form their own
  • Contributors – Provide insights based on data, research and their hands-on experience. They have a voice but no vote
  • Informed – People who may be affected by the decision. To be notified when decision made

Key Steps

  1. Team members should be assigned to an appropriate role matching their capability and understanding of the decision
  2. The Approver and Driver should connect immediately and plan the decision as a project. Together, they define the scope, timeline, and dependencies.
  3. Contributors need to begin gathering data and insights, followed by forming recommendations. Contributors should support their recommendations with research, experience, examples and data
  4. The Approver receives recommendations from the Contributors. They need to be constantly engaged reviewing feedback and recommendations from Contributors
  5. Ensure the process is moving forward is the Drivers role, but the Approver can step in if required to get the process back on track
  6. The Approver makes the final decision based on the information and insights provided
  7. Inform all stakeholders affected. A decision has been made

Final Thoughts

These techniques are skills. As with any skill you become better over time having performed the process, actions and steps 100’s of times.  Inform your team of the techniques early.

Consider using the techniques with your teams before you absolutely have to. “Practice” sessions. You’ll be ready when a major decision or multiple time sensitive decisions arrive. In conclusion – get decisive.