The ability to make decisions efficiently is an essential success factor for companies, regardless of the industry they are in. The faster a company is able to form shared views and rate ideas, the faster it can react and adapt to changes. As complexity increases, reaching decisions typically requires the input of various experts, which makes the decision making process slower. How to break bottle necks in decision making?
Decision making in companies is becoming more collective than before, and decisions typically require opinions from various experts across the organization. In order to reach a decision quickly, a common view needs to be formed efficiently.
As the number of participants increases, decision making becomes more complex and thus slower. There is more information available than ever to support decisions; it can be acquired more easily and at a lower cost than before. The easy access to information does not mean that people would not play the main role in decision making – on the contrary. If you want people to commit themselves to the decisions, you need to make sure that everyone has truly been able to participate in the decision making process.
How to make decisions both collectively and as efficiently as possible? Forming shared views becomes more efficient by using facilitation methods, by including only relevant people in the decision making process – and by rethinking the whole decision making forum, with the help of digital tools.
1. Split large decision items into smaller, human-sized decision points.
In general, it is easier to reach small decisions than bigger ones. Try to split large decision items into into smaller decision points that you bring to the table one by one, by choosing the suitable facilitation methods in advance. This way, lengthy meetings can be avoided and you will reach the decision sooner.
The step-by-step approach gives you concrete results along the way. You will be able to react to changes faster and see the big picture more easily.
2. Involve only the right people.
Reaching just the right decisions requires that the participants have a shared understanding on the matters – for example pros, cons, consequences, risks, opportunities and so on. If they do not, they will not commit themselves to the decision.
It is far easier to steer a smaller group of people than a bigger one. Make sure to involve only the people needed in each phase – do not invite anybody ”just in case”, not even to virtual meetings.
3. Instead of shared time, find a shared channel.
Often, finding the suitable calendar slot for the meeting takes more time than the decision item itself. Even when the meeting is set, the agenda might need to be reset as someone cancels at the last minute.
During the digital era, collaborative decision making does not need to depend on time or place. Thanks to new tools, busy key people can participate in the decision making no matter where they are located, when it suits them the best.
In our daily work at Sofigate, we use an online service called Roundtable that brings together the best sides of facilitation methods and social media. It requires from the decision makers only a daily engagement of 15 minutes, whenever they have the time.
Time and place-independent online tools make collaborative decision making more efficient and also bring down the costs, as potential travel expenses decrease.
However, professional facilitation, management skills and promoting trust can not be replaced by any tools. When the working environment feels safe, people are willing to share their expertise collectively and are more likely to reach good decisions – no matter what the decision forum is.