11 Commandments of a Decision-Making Culture

Decision making is tough, it is risky, and it is essential. Even so, the best organizations encourage their employees to make the touch calls without fear of repercussions.

(Source: Kev Griffin, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License)

(Source: Kev Griffin, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License)

An anxiety-based culture can cost an organization big time. Fear of failing and even stumbling has caused many companies to default to decision-making inertia. If employees are not empowered to make decisions, the corporate culture becomes fraught with complexity, ambiguity, and bureaucracy. That culture is costly (financially, of course, but also in terms of employee morale). Worse, it stifles innovation and success.

Here's how to foster a culture of decision making that is easier, faster, and more defined.

  1. Make bold decisions that challenge the status quo .
  2. Support your decisions with diverse data.
  3. Avoid choices that justify past bad decisions.
  4. Evaluate risks and benefits with equal rigor.
  5. Check for faulty cause-and-effect reasoning.
  6. Test your decisions with experiments.
  7. Root out unconscious prejudices.
  8. Foster and address constructive criticism.
  9. Defeat indecisiveness with clear accountability.
  10. Always follow through.
  11. Know that analytics aren't always a good fit.

We'd love to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly of how your organization makes decisions. Share with us in the comment section below.

7 comments on “11 Commandments of a Decision-Making Culture

    December 27, 2013

    I have seen too many organizations that do not clearly define responsibility levels.  As a result decisions are too slow to be made as they wait for a VP level decision maker to bless the decision.  The best companies clearly define who is responsible for what and then allow those with delegated authority to make the decision and assume responsibility for the outcome.

  2. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    December 29, 2013

    This is a great list….and i find myself thinking that it takes a really great and visionary management team to make it work. Unless you have support for the top, all of these commandments will get broken.

  3. Himanshugupta
    December 30, 2013

    @FlyingScot, i agree that most organizations have too much bureaucracy that people donot feel the need or courage to take decisions because they know that their decisions will be either shot down or not appreciated at the higher level. If clear roles and responsibilities are defined then people will feel empowed in the organizations.

  4. ahdand
    December 31, 2013

    @Himanshugupta: How about making the work place more user friendly and the management has time to listen to their employees ? Don't you think those 2 will do the job ?          

  5. ITempire
    December 31, 2013

    nimantha.d, senior management often does not take out time to mingle with employees of lower management and other staff members. This makes the distance between employees and management so broad that trust disappears and every action of senior management is then seen with an eye of suspicion. No doubt that friendly culture makes a difference in the performance of the organization.

  6. ITempire
    December 31, 2013

    Himanshugupta, often clear definition of roles and responsibilities makes things easier for employees. However, in some cases an employee who may have an idea or ability to do something good for an organization is unable to deliver because of the boundary that he cannot cross as a reason of strict JDs. Having said that, in most cases, clear definition of roles and responsibilities can ease things up for employees and organization.

  7. ITempire
    December 31, 2013

    Hailey, you are right. Only visionaries can deliver on these points. Often organizations are somewhat successful financial but they lack that inner cultural satisfaction of employees. This may become a hurdle for growth as instability in the core of organization can divert senior management's focus to fire-fighting tasks rather than those that bring growth.

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