Matrix Management

Stop being a decision maker – give up your Ds

I was recently discussing with a client in the middle east a common challenge as companies become more connected and more integrated – a tendency for decision making to get slower.

They were using a tool called DICE, a variant of the better known RACI process. In DICE we identify the Decision maker, who should be Informed, Consulted and who Executes the decision.

In a matrix or other integrated organization, because we are more connected it is extremely important to define both who and how we will make decisions. If we do not then everyone gets involved in everything and we default to consensus decision making. This may be appropriate for some types of decisions but it is certainly the slowest and most complex way to decide.

Unfortunately, for some this means that they need to be less involved and this requires trust. In a complex organization we rely on and are subject to the decisions of others. In order for us to be confident to do this we need to trust in the capability of people who may be strangers or over whom we have no control. These people may be making decisions that have big implications for us.

For people who have been used to being at the centre of decisions this can be hard. My client talked about their experiences of using DICE. There was some reluctance by individuals who were not identified as Ds to give up their role. Some accepted they were Cs but wanted to be labelled as “strong Cs” s they would still be more involved. One of the HR people told me someone responded “for gods sake, give up your Ds”.

In a complex environment, too many of us clinging to a role in decision making creates delays to all decisions. We need to be comfortable to give up some of our decision rights to others in order to earn the right in turn to get on with the decisions we do need to drive ourselves.

By the way, decisions in a complex company do not necessarily need to be slower, though this often happens in the early stages of becoming more integrated. If you are experiencing slower decision making then something is wrong, it does not need to be this way.

In our experience we can only do this by being explicit about decision rights and processes. We need to discuss who should make decisions and how they should make them. If some other factor, such as a lack or trust or capability in others (founded or unfounded) is the problem then let’s deal with the real problem. You will find more on this in my book “Making the Matrix Work”.

It’s also worth being really clear about the role of the C and the I. Consulting is something you do before making a decision, you take into account the views of the Cs as you consider the issue. Informing is something you do after you have made a decision.

Neither of these 2 roles are actually decision makers themselves, though if you involve them too much in the decision process they may assume that they are. It’s important to be clear if you want to speed up your decision making.

Where should you be clarifying decision rights and processes, or even giving up your Ds?

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