Matrix Management

Slower decision processes

cartoon, decision makingWe work with large multinational organizations and in the past a fairly reliable indicator of a slowdown in business is an extension of decision-making times, a reluctance to make a final decision, and an increase in the number of people involved.

This may indicate a growing aversion to risk, or perhaps that people have less resources to spend an external support so they consider them more carefully.

As we speak the economic signals in the US and UK (two big markets for us at Global Integration), are becoming more encouraging but confusingly, after a period when decision-making recovered in the last couple of years, it seems to be slowing down again.

We don’t really know why.  Sometimes it’s for what could be great reasons for us. For example a large client recently shelved some European programmes because they wanted to consider matrix management and virtual teams as a much larger global priority – the opportunity could be larger, but the decision is delayed by involving global colleagues.

It also be a function of organizational complexity – particularly as organizations become more global and more integrated, decision processes can become slower. It’s something we encounter regularly in our matrix management training. There seems to be a drift towards higher levels of involvement and a greater search for consensus amongst people involved in decision-making. Often this is an unconscious decision and it can be helpful to get teams to think through the specific decision rights for their routine decisions.

RACI is a fairly bureaucratic and cumbersome tool for allocating responsibilities, but in the context of decision-making, it’s real utility is to identify the I‘s and the Cs. ‘Consulted’ means I will ask you before I decide, and ‘Informed’ means I will let you know when I have decided. Neither of these roles are decision-makers: they don’t need to attend all of your meetings and they don’t get a vote!

Take the time to decide who needs to be involved in key decisions on what process you will use. (You can see some tools and frameworks for doing this in my book “Making the matrix work”.)

Are you seeing changes to the decision processes and timelines in your business? What’s your view?

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