A fundamental component for fluid operations is an organization’s ability to solve problems and make decisions. Any change or transformation cannot move faster than it’s ability to make decisions and communicate these. This is key if we realize that living with changes is the future status quo of operations.
Many years ago when I was still at University I got to meat a leader at production facility at Volvo, he asked us,
“How long time does it take from when the management team has made a decision and a worker on the shop floor grasps what this means?”
Without a doubt, this is way to slow for product development and software. But it puts a finger on the starting point for a normal, traditional company, before any lean or agile transformation begins. So, in order to succeed with a transformation that will challenge existing (often plan based structures) we need a better decision & communication process.
The basics of communication
- Communication, can be said have occurred when the subject you communicate, repeats what you say (preferably using an example from their domain). In essence, always check for a receipt when communicating, that’s when you are done.
- A good communication uses examples
This helps avoiding something you decided on as a management team get’s communicated differently to different subunits. It also challenges you as a management team to stay on a practical level and not on a abstract level.
A good decision process
In essence we are trying to get the best out of three things: multiple brains, decision speed, afterthought and timing. Afterthought is the realization that not all good ideas arrive at once. Our brain works in an active and passive mode, thus a gap of relaxation between gathering decision options and deciding is a good thing. You probably experienced this when you get an insight at the coffee machine, after training or in the morning.
A good decision process:
- Clarifies when decision needs to be made (you can use up to this moment to gather data and insights)
- Lists options (there are more than one!)
- Clarifies pro’s and con’s for each
- Accepts we absorb information with different speed, thus contains a small gap of afterthought between gathering options and making the call. If you are
- Is documented
- Is fact based
- Is communicated (using examples)
Remember, in good leadership, a change never comes as a surprise.