Involvement – what exactly do we mean?

"Too much co-operation?"The subject of involvement often comes up in our matrix management virtual teams training. People like to feel involved, managers are expected to keep people involved, decisions require involvement – but what does involvement really mean?

When you break it down there are many different types of involvement.

  • Stakeholder involvement – usually covers everyone who might be interested in a decision or topic; from the person who is fully accountable for its delivery, to someone who just needs to be communicated with when a decision is made.
  • Buy-in – people who need to be committed to the implementation of the decision or activity.
  • Consultation – people who need to be asked about their views before a decision is made.
  • Informed – people who need to be told when a decisions been made.
  • Committed – people who need to be fully committed to the decision as there is a major implication on them.

I’m sure there are others, but you get the idea. There are many different types of involvement and each of them need to be handled differently.

There is an old joke about the difference between being involved and committed to an English bacon and egg breakfast. The chicken is involved but the pig is committed!

One of the consequences of this lack of clarity on what “involvement” means is that we tend to use the same medium for creating all of these forms of involvement. This can lead to everyone being invited to meetings “just in case”. For instance, inviting those people who need to be informed to your meeting, may result in them beginning to see themselves as decision makers. This can lead to slow and unnecessary complex decision-making.

Many organizations use the RACI (we call it ARCI) process to help clarify who should be accountable, responsible, consulted and informed. This can be helpful; but it is quite a time consuming and potentially bureaucratic process.

Our advice is to be really clear about what form of involvement you want, and then think about the appropriate means to achieve it and when in the process you need to involve people.

If you are consulting someone, talk to them before you make a decision. If you’re informing them talk to them afterwards. Not everyone is a decision-maker.

By bringing this level of clarity to how you manage involvement, you can speed up meetings and decision making.

If you’d like to find out more about implementing this in your organization, give us a call.

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