Making decisions in a large organization can be very time-consuming, especially when there are different opinions and conflicting interests among stakeholders. If you are facilitating the decision process, you can follow the steps below to streamline the process and make effective decisions.
1) Define the Decision to be Made
Before starting, it is important to agree on the specific decision that needs to be taken. While it may seem obvious, capturing and clarifying the decision beforehand is essential.
2) Stakeholder Analysis
The next step is to identify and list the decision stakeholders. You can group them into the following categories:
- Decision Makers: These individuals are responsible for making the final decision.
- Task Force: This group collects data and makes recommendations.
- Other stakeholders: These individuals can provide input to the decision-making process.
Once you have conducted this analysis, review and obtain approval from the decision makers.
3) Collect Data
Now, you can begin working with the task force to collect relevant data. Start by listing the different options and decide which ones you want to analyze. There are various ways to conduct the analysis, such as:
- McKinsey Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) Framework: Use the Situation heading to describe the current state, the Complication to explain why a decision or change is needed, and the Resolution to describe the recommended decision. If possible, condense the analysis into one slide.
- Pros and Cons: List the positive aspects (pros) and negative aspects (cons) for each option to assess the best choice.
- SWOT Analysis: Create a slide for each option with headings for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
If you choose the last two options, include a recommendation slide that states the task force’s recommendation. You can also combine SCR and SWOT by using SCR as the front page and including the SWOT analysis in an appendix. In general, I recommend using the simplest framework that suits your context as long as it provides a structure to capture the data obtained from stakeholders.
If you have a more complex scenario you could also consider introducing a “weighted decision making matrix”
4) Task Force Review
Once you and your task force have collected the data, it’s time to conduct a review of the draft decision paper. Share the findings and aim to make an initial recommendation during this meeting, which should not exceed 30 minutes. Prior to the meeting, ensure that everyone reads the draft and notes down comments in the decision paper. The agenda for the meeting could look like this:
- General comments
- Review comments on each page, focusing only on the captured comments before the meeting
- Action and decisions summary
You have to stop long discussions at the meeting. Fast 30 to 60-second decisions are great. If more time is needed, assign 1-2 people to come up with a recommendation for a follow-up meeting.
5) 1:1 Review with Decision Makers
To ensure a swift final decision-making meeting with the decision makers, schedule individual meetings with each of them. Capture their input and address their concerns. With their input, you can create the final decision paper that incorporates their ideas and addresses concerns.
6) Final Decision-Making Meeting
During the final decision-making meeting, the task force presents the recommended decision. The decision makers are asked to state if they can support the recommendation. This meeting should not exceed 30 minutes, and there should be no surprises as you have already collected input from the decision makers during the 1:1 meetings.
7) Capture Feedback – if you want to take your decision-making to the next level
Upon concluding the decision-making process, ask your key stakeholders for feedback on the process. Ask questions like “What went well?”, “What could have been improved?” or “What would you have done differently?”. This approach ensures you are better equipped to facilitate future decision-making processes. (Malte Øster thank you for contributing with this last step.)
Streamlining decision-making in organizations requires clarity, thorough data collection, and effective communication with stakeholders. Following this structured approach ensures that decisions are well-informed, timely, and supported by key stakeholders, ultimately fostering a more efficient decision-making culture, and avoiding long unproductive meetings.
I hope the above steps inspire you to make effective decisions. Do you use a similar method, or do you have your own approach?