Recently I facilitated a meeting with a senior leadership team about decision making. The key question was: Are you making the right decisions at the right level?
Decision making that happens at the wrong levels can have a bottle-neck effect on productivity. People at lower levels are not confident or not authorized to make decisions, thus end up waiting to get an answer from their leaders. Or leaders keep too many decisions for themselves thus delaying progress on projects and programs.
So what's the answer? The Decision Tree.
In her book Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott outlines the Decision Tree concept. The Decision Tree is a great tool to help build confidence and skill in decision making. Yes, making decisions is a skill and people need practice to get better at it. And teams need to collectively get better at not only making decisions together but also empowering others to make decisions.
The Decision Tree concept outlines four levels of decision making:
- Leaf Decisions: Make the decision. Act on it. Do not report the action you took.
- Branch Decisions: Make the decision. Act on it. Report the action you took daily, weekly, or monthly.
- Trunk Decisions: Make the decision. Report your decision before you take action.
- Root Decisions: Make the decision jointly, with input from many people. These are the decisions that, if poorly made and implemented, could cause major harm to the organization.
This tool and process works for delegation and professional development. You know you or your team members are growing and developing when more and more decisions are moved to the leaf level.
Are your people too dependent on the leaders to make decisions? If the leader is away do projects get stalled or derailed by lack of decisions being made? Are decisions that should be 'root decisions', with group input, being made in isolation?
Is it time for the Decision Tree workshop with your team?. Reach out for more information.