Decision making process relied for ages (and still does in a majority of cases) on a top-down approach, where decisions are taken by senior executives and executed by all layers below in a pre-defined way.
This hack defines a revolutionary decision making process which allows employees to participate to the decision based on new social networking tools. Benefits for the company are:
- Better integration of the logic of the decision,
- Optimized tactical execution of tasks,
- Prevention of positional bias from execution levels,
- More useful alternatives to "standard" options.
Companies regularly fail in implementing successfully strategic decision. Main problems are:
1. BLURRED LOGIC: contributors to the implementation of a solution do not generally understand the logic of the decision because they don't have visibility on all elements behind the decision. Social-networked decision process allows open and consultative discussion of the logic which should result in better adherence of all participants to final rationale.
2. EXECUTION DISCONNECT: too many strutural layers often prevent implementation with limited feedback of the decision and suboptimal tactical decisions are taken, sometime even in contradiction with the initial decision. Social-networked decision process opens up for multiple levels of feedback on the reality of the implementation and provides real life solutions to existing hurdles.
3. PERSONAL BIAS: Positional bias takes place at all levels in the execution chain and facilitates implementation of the best solution for the individual often to the detriment of the best solution for the company. Social-networked decision process discourages middle-management from using personal agenda and forces best solutions for the company to be defined and agreed by all contributors.
4. LACK OF OPTIONS: when decisions are taken in small groups, it is likely that the same decisions will be taken over and over again, preventing better solutions being articulated based on a larger community of contributors. Social-networked decision process multiplies the options with an increased number of participants, even outside the perimeter of the concerned entity if need be.
Key components of the solution are the following:
1. Executive level support for the process
2. A template that allows decisions to be “social-networked” that includes:
- Opportunity/Issue to be addressed
- Recommendations on who, when and how, to address it
- Investment case with clear identification of pay off
- Key implementation steps
3. Supporting technology to host the social-networked decision process. It is essential to implement a decent and easily understood polling and voting mechanism, genuinely a case of the right tool and process helping to make the outcome work.
4. An execution Framework that describes how decisions get finally executed?
- Revolving Peer Group which role is to encourage consultative work with some level of moderations and make final summary of inputs. One Group is to be defined for each decision channel
- Governance to identify which entity (or person) ultimately makes the decision - Consultation vs. Decision
5. An incentivization Scheme:
- Put in place incentives directly correlated with impact of the decision on participants (What is it in it for me?)
- Some “gamification” in the process can encourage non directly impacted persons to contribute ("Most Valuable Player" title for example)
Let us take the example of a company which needs to change the way IT Customer Service should be provided. Current situation involves internal support team with field engineers in each location. The CIO wishes to centralize some resources to optimize costs and leverage knowledge transfer. Impacts on quality of service to users have not been properly analyzed.
The traditional way of taking the decision would have consisted in discussing the matter at the Executive Board and presenting the Business Case. Impacted field engineers would have heard about the project, not knowing the impact on their day to day activities and fearing for their future. Service would have started to degrade and use satisfaction would have dropped.
Let us now imagine that the CEO and the CIO decide to go for a Social-Networked Decision Process.
The CEO starts by appointing a Social Peer Group which will facilitate a social network platform to discuss the intention to optimize Customer Service, presenting the rationale for consolidation, encouraging inputs from internal IT support functions as well as users in the regions. All employees can have a say on the logic for the decision, presenting the benefits and the practical hurdles of implementation (such as disruption of ancillary services provided by field engineers who are not properly "identified" in the job descriptions).
By opening up the decision to all parties, it is very much likely that new options might be considered. For example, a federated model by which Customer Services are virtually centralized per region but not necessarily physically displaced.
At the end of the consultation process, the Social Peer Group can advise the CEO about the best decision to take. All employees are then fully aware of the logic behind the decision; they clearly identified the execution practicalities and the necessary work-around; nobody can play personal agendas (job protection) and new innovative options have been considered.
In a short, main impacts are:
- Quality of the decision increases
- Implementation speed goes up (with al parties' support)
- Employee motivation and buy-in is higher , knowing that there was participation to the decision making process
1. Find 2 or 3 executives who would be ready to use 3 different kinds of decision channels (HR, Technology, Finance...)
2. Explicitely state that this is experimental only.
3. Attempt a careful identification of the areas in which is crowd sourcing / crowd discussion is beneficial; in the initial days it is better to begin with tactical moves or initiatives that affect operations or have a direct impact on employees work.
4. Start with small experiments in “educated” teams i.e.
- Involve some research engineers or developers who are already used to communicate to achieve their objective
- Select preferably a majority of young staff members already faced to Social networking behaviors. However it is also important to include Gen X, Y, and Baby Boomers to ensure that lessons are learned about adoption and change management from across the age groups
- Communicate to the entire staff about the experiment and the goal to achieve (more transparency into decision making to reach company objective more quickly and more efficiently)
5. Experience incentives and timeframe (e.g. 12 experiements in 3-6 months) e.g. include reward based mechanisms that could follow gaming principles to encourage adoption and sustainability
6. Celebrate Success