Sunday, April 14, 2013

What's Worse Than Making the Wrong Decision?

Effective organisations run like well-oiled machines, where each ‘cog’ in the organisation work efficiently as part of one massive operation to meet some predetermined objective or objectives. There are millions of combinations of management and operational processes that can be employed, and hence each ‘cog’ needs to know exactly what they have to do to contribute to the overall ‘plan’, what their parameters are, time lines, responsibilities etc. 

However the beauty of an organisational ‘machine’ is that it can change and adapt over time to stay effective and become the best it can be to meet changing objectives and challenges within its business environment. 

To be effective this organisational machine needs to make decisions, some will be strategic and more long term, made by management and executive teams; and others will be operational and made on a day-to-day basis as the needs arises, but within the overall strategic framework. 

An effective organisation is a ‘thinking’ machine where each ‘cog’ has a voice and specific, often unique, knowledge and input to ‘share’ with their organisation – this is where the culture is formed and innovative ideas developed that can change the course and performance of the organisation for the benefit of all their stakeholders.  

For a motivational, innovative culture decisions have to be made – some decisions may have to be made without or in advance of collecting all the data and facts – but decisions have to be made. Sometimes decisions will be wrong – but the advantage of making them in the first place is that it will give clarity and direction to a ‘problem’ - where through the implementation of the decision the organisation will quickly see that they are wrong and will adapt and change accordingly – well at least the well run organisations will….. 

The one thing worse than making the wrong decision is not making a decision at all! Although it may appear to the ‘decision maker’ that by not making a decision ‘they’ are keeping the status quo for now – without that formal communication process back through the organisation that says ‘No, not now’ or ‘No, and a reason why’ – the organisation and those that came up with the suggestions are left wondering and unsure of what is the best thing to do. 

Decision makers that don’t make and communicate decisions are often blindly unaware of the negative impact they have on the culture of their organisation, the confusion it causes and how it stifles innovation and creates disharmony and demotivation.

Employees at all levels should be encouraged to come up with ideas that will help the organisation – and it should be every organisations desire to create that kind of culture. But when they do decisions need to be made and communicated back – if it’s a bad idea, then tell them why – so that they know for the next time or maybe they have a counter suggestion – but it’s all part of ‘on the job’ development. If it’s a good idea, but it’s not appropriate now or the company can’t afford to implement it now – tell them and look for alternative ways to make the change. 

But don’t ignore suggestions – whether good or bad. Always have the courtesy to give face-to-face feedback – no emails saying ‘thank you for your suggestions’. Always recognise employees or stakeholders who makes suggestions that they believe can make a positive difference; and once you’ve ‘made your decision’ then have the courtesy to give them feedback – and if you can’t give them feedback for a few weeks or months – let them know you’ll get back to them within a certain time and why it might take that long. 

The worst kind of decision is ‘no decision’ – and it can destroy the fabric of an organisations culture cutting off feedback and ideas.

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