• Tremaine Du Preez

The challenge

X inc is one of the world’s largest manufacturing organisations. They already had a fast and frugal decision-making process that allowed them to keep up with a rapidly changing consumer environment. It was all about being agile and disruptive, overcoming deadlocks and widening the bandwidth of their decision makers to ensure they weren’t bottlenecks in a VUCA environment. Within this strategy decision makers did not have to take the time to explain their decisions to subordinates. This eroded trust between colleagues as decisions could be taken unilaterally with little consultation. They also didn’t need to speak to people they knew would challenge them and so slow them down, even if these people were the experts.

The investigation

On the flip side, many employees didn’t have the confidence to make decisions quickly or unilaterally and so escalated, procrastinated or avoided making a choice. The process was broken but implementing a long, detailed decision-making framework was never going to appeal to them.

What was the problem they needed to solve? Firstly, they all needed to be aligned about the future of the organisation so that decision makers always had the same ultimate goal and could justify their choices in line with it. Rebuilding trust would come through openness and consultation within the decision-making process. A common language to discuss their decision making and approach to risk would also be helpful. Their fast and frugal system was augmented with specific steps to slow them down and introduce essential critical thought and challenge into their thinking.

This resulted in decision makers feeling more confidence in their decision making mostly because their ultimate goal changed from making quick decisions to effective decisions. A more robust framework ensured that they examined their decisions from more angles, better understood the pitfalls in the information they gathered and were better able to articulate their choice rationale through the lens of the framework.