Design in decision-making

My web-designer does not understand why I have the word ‘design’ in both the Trademarked propositions that we offer. For me it is because the ‘design’ activity is often missing when creating business decision frameworks or creating business strategy. And I mean ‘design’ as a creative endeavour as well as a discipline.

Given the media sound-bite; “The UK is open for business” I cannot resist exploring last week’s UK referendum as a;

case study of design in decision-making.

If you had a major strategic choice to make would you make it by a straight vote across all your staff? Would you include your suppliers and customers? Who would you want to include in the decision-making forum and why?

I’m not saying that an internal company vote is never appropriate, after all the notion of majority voting is embedded in the governance of limited companies in the UK. So I could equally use the example of a shareholder vote on something strategic (and perhaps less emotive than Boardroom pay).

Whether Members or staff are invited to vote, how would you get them ready / fit to make the decision? Would you brief them in advance? How would you avoid skewing the result towards the ‘obvious choice’? How would you avoid your company getting flushed away by a majority that does not understand what is required to make the business successful for all (Customers, Shareholders, Staff and Suppliers)? It’s all about putting design in decision-making.

Would you accept a narrow majority decision?

Some company articles and indeed bits of Company Law refer to decisions having to be agreed by some proportion of the vote; 5%, 75% etc. This is a useful way of making sure that your Company does not become divided by a narrow majority, it’s destiny decided by a very few tactical voters.

If we look at the other components of the business decision design® model we are also prompted to ask:

  • What is the objective of the decision and how does that shape the way that we undertake making the choice?
  • How will we implement the decision? Have we got the mechanisms in place to enact the result whichever way it goes?

But most importantly for me we ask whether we have asked the right question(s)?

I believe that language matters a lot. (In fact I think that I’ll do a blog on language next week).

  • Have we used the right tone?
  • Is the question understood, in the same way, by all?
  • Does the language we have used introduce bias into the decision?
  • Have we separated out the various options sufficiently or have we lumped choices together in a way that does not actually reflect the options before us?
  • Do we allow the choices made to be modified or reversed later?
  • Do we allow the decision process to modify the choices we offer while we are in the decision process?

If some good comes out of last week’s national decision if hope it includes raising awareness of the importance of design in decision-making.

Link to this week’s picture

I hope you enjoy the sky



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