What happens when you gather a group of talented executives and managers to talk about improving their decision making?
At Almanac, we wanted to find out. Our team has talked with hundreds of leaders across a range of industries – from technology to health care to nonprofits. In these conversations we heard a consistent refrain: decision making is broken in modern organizations.
Managers and executives tell us their teams often have haphazard processes for making decisions. Day-to-day, their systems feel messy, unclear, and slow. And even when they reach a decision, managers don't know if they made a good one, and team members point fingers if they realize they haven't.
To help solve this problem, we launched a course called The 10x Manager. Nearly three dozen managers and executives from all over the world joined us to address topics like:
We shared frameworks, strategies, tactics to tackle the toughest problems we faced in our teams. Along the way, course participants identified specific friction points in their decision-making processes and took steps to address them:
Not defining the problem to be solved specifically. "I think generally we're pretty good at specifying what the problem is and getting a description for the future, but we tend to not get specific enough."
Not getting the right people involved in the right roles. "Even small companies still need an advisory board. You have some people that are involved in order to make you to help you make a better decision. At the end of the day, you don't want to be making decisions in isolation ever in life"
Getting stuck in loops. "What we've seen is if you start going back and saying, 'let me see what the SME says. Oh, they don't like our decision? Why don't they like the decision?' We've seen ourselves falling into that trap. We like linear processes and we avoid loops"
Spending too much time in meetings. "My organization is an extreme meeting culture. We did a survey and people spend on average – and this is across managers, software developers, everyone – more than 50% of their time on Zoom, which means there are people you just can't speak with because they are on meetings all the time."
If you've ever managed a team, you know that making the right call on important decisions is extremely challenging.
With an informal or improvised decision process, you feel alone, frustrated by process chaos, and exhausted by constant meetings. Even when you adore the work and your team, you have to make gut wrenching decisions in order to keep the business alive during tough times.
A decision protocol is your framework for achieving 10x greater results as a manager – with clear next steps and strategies – before your first day in charge.
For most managers, a rock-solid decision protocol is a year or more in the making. They learn through trial and error, making every mistake on their way to a process that works. You need to build your decision protocol now, before you feel the pressure of high stakes decisions. The 10x Manager expedites your development with the right steps.
Here are four steps you should take now to build out your team's decision protocol.
Good decisions combine the best of your team's insights and experience. Start by establishing a clear common mission centered around a specific goal or metric. Invite stakeholders to participate in rapid brainstorming sessions to generate new ideas without getting bogged down. Avoid ambiguity about who holds ultimate accountability for solving this problem to ensure useful feedback and maintain momentum toward a solution.
Channel the results of your brainstorming and information gathering into a persuasive proposed solution. Describe the context and the pain points that make this a problem that needs to be solved as quickly as possible. Explain the future state for which you are aiming and how, specifically, you will know when you have achieved it. Aim for short, direct sentences that are easy to understand. Remove filler words. Keep it simple. And use formatting to your advantage.
Decision processes collapse when stakeholders are confused about the parts they need to play. Most processes involve a combination of four distinct roles: a **Recommender** who guides the solution through the initial discussion and drafting steps; **Consulted** team members whose feedback is necessary to vet the proposal; an **Approver** who makes the final call and commits the team to implementing the decision; and **Informed** team members who need to know about the decision once it has been made.
10x managers know that decisions don't become great until they move the needle toward the results your organization needs. Manage implementation with tasks or processes with attached assignees. Aim for speed to insight so your company can learn quickly from both failures and successes. Establish metrics that allow you to judge whether the decision is being implemented successfully and whether it is helping your team achieve the desired results.