How Quickly Does Your Organization Make Decisions?
By Mike Raia Posted July 10, 2020
Making Decisions Day-to-Day
For most organizations, decisions are rarely made in a vacuum. Organizations require some level of structure to ensure corporate policies are adhered to and critical decisions receive the proper checks and balances before action is taken. Sometimes this is due to regulatory or compliance pressure, sometimes it’s simply organizational due diligence.
In many cases, decisions are synonymous with “approvals.” Someone has made a request and someone or a series of people need to make a decision, yes or no. Sometimes the decision has a direct financial impact, like funding a large real estate project. Sometimes the decision has a less direct impact, like approving a new piece of marketing collateral for use at a trade show.
Designed to Fail
At the same time, the ability for organizations and individuals to quickly make decisions is often hampered by inefficient practices and manual request/approval processes. While organizational hierarchy may determine who decides what, the processes driving the decisions remain ad-hoc and manual. Unfortunately, as Harvard Business Review points out in their article "The Decision-Driven Organization:"
"A corporation’s structure will produce better performance if and only if it improves the organization’s ability to make and execute key decisions better and faster than competitors.”
Employees can also suffer from "decision fatigue," meaning that after encountering so many decisions, large and small, over the course of an average day we can begin to avoid making decisions or begin making poor choices.
In a more recent article by Customer Bliss, the importance of "connecting silos" within the organization is mentioned as a way to improve the customer experience through better decision making. HR, Finance, Marketing, Operations, IT, and many other departments/business units handle a variety of requests from both internal and external customers. Sometimes these requests and approvals cut across multiple "silos" and the organization needs a way to collect, route, track, and evaluate all the decisions that need to be made. So how do you improve the decision-making process?
A Lack of Information
In many cases, we are asked to make a decision without the proper information and data to do so. This can lead to easily avoidable mistakes. Let's say a manager needs to decide if a new project idea will be profitable and all they have to go on is a two-sentence email they've received saying there is a short window for the idea to be successful. Several emails, discussions, meetings, and days of research later, a decision is made, perhaps too late to take advantage of the opportunity.
The only other option would have been to make a gut decision in the moment and hope for the best and while relying on your gut can be a solid strategy in some cases, most people prefer to have more information at the outset.
Request and approval systems provide tools for developing workflows that follow preset business rules and ensure that decisions are made:
- Based on complete and current information
- By the best person(s) to handle them
- With complete audit trails
Our white paper "Automating Request and Approval Processes" describes a method for decision automation, specifically, automating an organization’s request and approval management to ensure better and faster decisions get made while providing the necessary information to audit and report on the decision-making process.