We have all seen it in organisations, the non-decision. The decision that needs making but it’s an uninteresting area, a tough decision that will leave some groups unhappy or a decision with no heroes emerging at the far side and a few risks along the way. So what happens? You get the non-decision. This can take a number of forms. See if you spot any in your organisation, and then have a look at a few ways to change this.
No Owner: The decision sits between departments or directorates and no one grabs it – in actual fact no one is seen near it, and if it heads anyone’s direction they disappear slightly quicker than Antigonus exiting pursued by a bear.
Delaying: The decision is avoided by requesting further information, which is not particularly necessary but will use time. Adding a committee in can help add extra time to the delay.
Delegate: The decision gets moved to the desk of some unfortunate delegee who is not best placed to take it and does not have the authority to implement the decision, but hey it’s off your desk.
Sugar Coating: The decision is taken but sugar coated to make it seem more palatable. This short term expedient leaves no one happy in the mid to long term and a half made decision still hanging around.
Sidestep: The decision is just left unmade. The problem does not go away and keeps eating away at your organisation or its efficiency, potentially costing far more than if it had been resolved. As a downside it also eats away at the morale of staff.
So how do you make sure you avoid the above? Here are a few suggestions:
Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Make sure your organisation gets out of the habit of criticising the bearer of bad news. Make it really clear that where people identify and help resolve problems or deal with tough issues not only will they not get criticised but they will get the recognition they deserve.
Forget the Sugar Coating: Learn to be a bit more candid and open as an organisation (that does not mean start being rude!). Once you start accepting that problems and tough decisions are a normal part of business, tackling them gets much easier.
Commit to Timeframes: Where there are tricky, unwanted or unloved issues get into the habit of setting time frames to resolve them. An issue is much more likely to be resolved in a timely manner if you have made a commitment to do that.
Encourage Ownership: A problem which was costing £50,000 and is solved is as valuable to your organisation as a new idea which generates £50,000. Sometimes it is a lot easier to achieve. Encourage ownership of problems as for not shooting the messenger.
Take Collective Responsibility: As they say, “a problem shared is a problem halved”. Even in organisations which encourage ownership, support and help from your colleagues is great – not only when there is a shiny new idea or easy decision on the horizon.
So seen any lingering decisions hanging around your office? Get them owned and moving on today!

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