Technology and Tools have made gathering data and churning numbers a lot easier. The common belief is more the data, better and faster is the decision making. Agree? To some extent, yes!
If you take a look around the sources of records within an enterprise you will find a lot of them, some connected, some in silos & some no one even cares about.
Sure, big data analytics and machine learning have come to our rescue to make sense of these disjointed data sets but how efficiently is the final output used. Answers are often soft murmurs and far less definitive.
Where lies the problem?
What does it take to make effective and impactful decision making?
How can we make it a practice and course-correct with agility?
The matter at hand is about having the flexibility to make decisions quickly and be able to improvise those decisions in an iterative manner.
Today’s business scenario is all about being “agile”. Be it agile project management or agile decision making.
Business owners and decision-makers no longer prefer a big-bang approach.
It is neither sustainable nor business-friendly. In fact, it can be highly detrimental to the business itself, given the rapid technological advances allowing competitors to catch-up quickly.
Hence everyone is always on their feet to take the plunge into the next big venture – product, service offering, pricing models, new markets or organizational changes.
How do you think one can follow agile decision making?
The first steps must include taking an objective view of the facts at hand. Analyze it to see specific trends and their coincidence with associated market changes, demand surge or regulatory changes if applicable.
More importantly, as to how soon can you go to market, or how soon can you start seeing benefits.
Basically, testing the waters before committing significant resources or budget.
And for this, you have to follow an iterative approach. Take a decision on making the smallest changes to see their impact and assess if the realized impacts will scale if implemented across the board.
Assessing the impact
The agile mindset calls for a consistent stream of feedback and performance (impact, results & outcomes) review.
If you are a Product Owner, you do realize the importance of the Sprint Reviews and Sprint Retrospectives.
They are excellent tools to collect feedback – Before and after!
Sprint Reviews are about
- Showcasing the work that is done
- Is it acceptable
- What revisions are needed
- Is the work done in accordance with the original commitment
Now apply this approach to your agile-decision making process.
- what is the decision you have made
- does it apply/fit the case at hand
- is it in sync with the objective that warranted the decision in the first place
- does it need review
If you notice, extensive collaboration across the board is the central theme here. It isn’t and should not be an executive decision.
The idea is to have the right stakeholder participation and though the review of the path and its alignment with the chosen objectives.
Similarly, Sprint retrospectives are about the “after the fact” scenario where you
- analyze the outcomes
- outcomes vs. commitment or intended/promised objectives
- how far was the gap
- what did not work & why
- what are the required corrective measures
The best part is you gain clarity from the practical challenges ranging from execution, time, efforts and muscle required to sail through.
If applied consistently, the above approaches will save you from burning your hands far too many times.
Another important aspect of agile decision making is about receiving feedback. Leaders that prefer an iron fist may not like it and even feel threatened. Some may say we are running a company and not a democracy.
The result, innovation is stifled, data get massaged and there is a lot of masking of the hard facts. All of which lead to erroneous decisions.
Nokia & Blackberry are classic examples! Remember them?
Encourage open discussions and active participation to expand your data source. Collective feedback will enable a great What-If analysis as well.
The more the feedback, the better. And the reasons are very simple.
- Stakeholders get to put their skin in the game.
- Increases participation
- Helps align your people towards a common objective
- Results in robust decision making
Unhindered feedback leads to facts closest to the truth and helps us identify the blind spots which can often be missed and prove counterproductive to the whole initiative in question.
We all have heard and benefited from acts of collaboration.
In fact, collaboration plays a significant role in all walks of our lives. It is all about the compounded impact and value delivered.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie
Given the rise of agile project management software, collaboration has become an intrinsic part of how we operate.
The most trusted benefits in a collaborative workplace are
- Greater alignment of strategy with execution
- Clutter-free execution
- Desk free work management
- Well placed to handle crisis situations
- Focus is on the core objective
- All move ahead in the same direction
- Ability to deliver better & timely outcomes
Decision making is strengthened in a collaborative environment because you have your team to back you up.
It does increase your risk appetite when you do not have to fear repercussions or pull back from the team.
Moreover, you are emboldened to chart paths less traveled and experiment to achieve better business outcomes.
So, the question is not about the ability to make decisions. It is about the process, the approach that leads to those decisions and that acts as the deciding factor between success and failure.
Remember, being agile is more of a mindset, a way of doing things rather than a playbook. And its hallmarks are transparency, collaboration, iteration & compounded value of the outcomes!
It is not about taking that one decision and see it last forever. As it is never the case.
Agile decision making is all about creating & managing building blocks and piecing them together into a masterpiece.
You want to be sustainable, stay ahead of the competition, fail fast and succeed faster while minimizing losses – agile decision making is the way to go.
Interestingly, you can apply it to all quadrants of your life.
How agile of a mind-set does your enterprise reflect?