Decision making and organisational change

Have you ever witnessed an attempt at organisational change and thought to yourself, “How could they have possibly thought that would work?

Decision making

I know I have, and the answer can often be traced back to the decision making process used to decide on the change in the first place.

While certainly not professing decision making omnipotence I would like to share with you a straight forward decision making framework that you may find useful to keep in mind when it’s you that is tasked with  organisational change responsibilities.

Decision Making Style How it works Good for… However…
Directive You decide on your own.
  • You are confident you have all the information necessary to make the decision
  • Quick decisions
  • You’ll need to personally explain, justify it to all impacted people
  • Risk of rejection\failure of adoption.
Consultative Individual You consult with one or more individuals and then make the decision yourself.
  • You need additional support within the larger group for the decision to be accepted.
  • You need more information.
  • You need to test your decision out on a representative sample of the larger group.
  • There are too many people involved to consult everyone.
  • Seeding a critical mass of supporters to the change
  • Requires a little more time
  • Careful to select the most appropriate representatives
  • Possible to alienate influencers excluded from this consultation (that feel they should have been included)
Consultative Group You consult a group of people, but ultimately make the decision yourself.
  • You’ll need whole group support for the decision.
  • Manageable number of people impacted, such that they can be consulted.
  • You need more information
  • Requires a little more time again
  • Higher cost in lost productivity (for larger groups)
  • You’ll need an appropriate forum for the discussion
  • Requires independent moderation\facilitation
Participative You engage a group of people to participate in the decision making and abide by the group’s decision.
  • You need to engage the group and are prepared to accept the group decision.
  • Must be prepared to accept the group decision.
  • You have time to consider and address the issues and opinions of the group
  • Requires independent moderation\facilitation
Delagative You set the ground rules (scope, limitations, desired outcomes, etc) and trust your group of delegates to make the decision.
  • You have confidence in the groups’ ability to make the best decision for the organisation.
  • You don’t have time to be directly involved yourself.
  • The expectations and outcomes of the decision are able to be articulated clearly.
  • Although you may delegate the responsibility to the group, the accountability will remain with you.

And so there it is; nothing too surprising right?

Organisational Change

Organisational Change

None-the-less, hopefully just knowing such a framework exists (and btw, there are lots of them), will cause you to pause and think about the change you are trying to initiate and therefore the decision making style that’s likely to gain you, and your change, the most practical support.


(original author: Dean Lane)

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