Decide Fast, Learn Fast, Win Fast


Ready to Unleash Your Transformation? Focus on Decision Making.

How many time has this happened to you? Its Monday morning, and you just logged into your weekly staff meeting when you get an urgent call from senior management. They want you to call them immediately, join their conference call or maybe even come to their office to discuss why your company cannot move faster with your projects, change, strategy execution, technology, process improvements, etc.? At least 3 times this month? It happens everyday, and it happened again today. The pace of your change needs to be faster. It will happen again tomorrow! So, what do you do? For starters, I propose you start with your decision making.

A company can only move as fast as they make decisions. The effectiveness of decision making is like the speedometer for your project, change initiative, strategic endeavor, etc. If decisions are slow, your transformation will be slow. If decisions are fast, your company will be able to move forward faster. Decisions create actions that translate into tasks for people in the company to complete. No decisions, no actions, no tasks, no completion.

DecideFastLearnFastWinFastIn Leading Successful Change, authors Shea & Solomon propose to change an organization you need to change behavior. They elaborate further to describe 8 levers of change, one of which they describe as decision allocation. Simply put, think of this as “who decides what, and where?” There are models available to help you structure the decision making process. I personally prefer the DACI model: Driver, Approvers, Contributors, Informed because it is simple and emphasizes accountability in the role of Driver to make the decision happen.

Before we go rushing off to “just make more decisions, faster”, lets consider some drivers behind slower decision making. When companies lack action, they are indecisive. Indecision can be caused for may reasons including but not limited to: not enough information, too much information, and unclear roles and responsibilities. Said another way, people hesitate to make decisions because they fear the decision will not have the required quality demanded by the company.

This balance of speed vs quality can be challenging. Consider the classic 2×2 above to assist with guiding actions to improve your decision making. If you find yourself with fast decision making, but low quality, focus on learning faster from your low quality decisions. If you find yourself with high quality decisions but too much time to make them, focus on deciding faster by embracing more risk.

Make no mistake, if you make decisions faster you improve your company’s ability to move forward faster. Have you heard the old saying “Win Fast, Fail Fast“? While it is very applicable in this context, I prefer “Decide Fast, Learn Fast, Win Fast”. If you make decisions faster, and they truly lack the quality you desire, engage your learning capability and dial your learnings back into a new decision to ultimately win faster.

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Organizational Capability for Transformation


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“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” – Admiral John Stockdale, USN.

How do you align the business with IT? How do you confront the reality of a business strategy when it represents a threat to the status quo? How do you align that direction with a portfolio of projects that incrementally deliver on the desired change? In order to transformation a business, company, division, or team, you need to assemble many disciplines and techniques including but not limited to: business strategy, enterprise architecture, project management, personal development, communication, and training.

There are many books, white papers, and commentary on business strategy, project management, change management, IT governance, and organizational design. However, I rarely see any transformational thought leadership that describes these concepts as organizational capabilities, or services that work together in unison. When teams have raised their capability to deliver multiple skills like this, they position themselves better for success.

In order to transform an organization, the organization needs to position itself for success by building the capability to change, or transform. Too frequently, leaders assemble only one or maybe two of the disciplines listed above to deliver significant change. Calling on Admiral Stockdale’s profound leadership, transformational leaders should have confidence in the 1 or 2 skills they have brought together to drive change, but they should also confront the reality that most transformations fail. Have you assembled all the skills and capabilities you need to be successful with your change? What additional capabilities does your team need to better position you for success? Confront your reality and adjust  your team to bring more transformational capabilities to the table.