Archive | Business Decision Design

Maybe a Master-Plan would ensure that the public toilets were as clean and new as this one.

Leadership? Who owns the Master-Plan?

The Event I went to a Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce event yesterday: “The Construction Voice”. It was well attended (~70 participants) and the Panel of three speakers certainly provided some interesting insights and raised some challenging issues. I heard lots of calls for a Master-Plan but I did not hear anyone offering to […]

We find ourselves making quick decisions all the time including judgements about the acts of others.

Quick Decisions – how much time is enough?

What’s the rush? The pressure is on. Everyone wants an instant response and quick decisions. “Why do you need to deliberate?” “Haven’t you made your mind up yet?” “What’s wrong with you? Are you weak, poorly informed or incompetent?” “Surely you know all about this already. Your people have seen it.” “No-one else has objected.” […]

Should I go fr a swimm here? A risky decision with 50cm wide jellyfish in the water.

Risky decision? How much detail do you need?

I once worked for a US multinational company whose Vice President of Engineering insisted on reducing the product launch risk to zero before allowing new product introductions to proceed from development into manufacturing. He did not want to take a risky decision. Some projects spent a long time at that Stage-gate. Acceptable levels of risk Getting […]

This slime is from a childrens science kit but nicely illustrates the two modes of behaviour; flow and resistance

What is your organisation made of? Slime?

Sometimes I have done Organisational Design (OD) work. OD is often part of the bridge between Strategy and Implementation. But we don’t usually talk about slime! What is an organisation made of? If we are building a new, or renovating an existing, organisation – what building materials do we need? Typically we may think about […]

This bird's long legs enable it to take an aerial view, useful in independent assurance work.

Independent Assurance; an Artistic Inquiry?

Independent assurance – who needs it? We are agile. Low on formal process, high on creativity. We are the guns. Exceeding client expectations. We don’t need ‘assurance’. Right? We are a long-standing branded supplier. High on process so that we tick the boxes for large clients across global markets. We are the nuts. Always meet […]

Common plantain holds grasses at bay with its innate land and expand strategy

Land and expand. How agile is that strategy?

Land and expand  is a common strategy in situations where success is directly linked to the number of personnel deployed. Land and expand is everywhere In nature plants such as plantains (see this week’s cover picture) use this effectively, spreading out horizontally to block light from the surrounding grass as it competes for air, water […]

Tree Root Fungus - symbiotic collaboration or competition?

Collaboration or Competition? Which strategy for prosperity?

How do I see the backdrop? I think that collaboration was once a dirty word. Proposing collaboration suggested that your organisation was weak and not competent to succeed on its own. It became more acceptable as the European Union research programmes actively promoted pre-competitive research through collaborative projects. I think this was about improving the […]

The long shadows of the setting sun remind us that having a PMO as a beacon of truth is useful but may also obscure aspects of our journey.

PMO or Strategic Investment Decision Support?

Which adds more value: PMO or Strategic Investment Decision Support unit? I was once asked to design a Strategic Investment Decision Support (SIDS) unit as part of an overhaul of governance for a FTSE 250 company. It was in fact a PMO, where the ‘P’ in this instance stood for ‘Portfolio’ rather than ‘Project’ or […]

'RAG' status reports take to the skies in Newcastle in July 2017.

‘RAG’ Status Report – Decision-support or ragged bull?

When is a ‘RAG’ status report helpful? We do design work on strategy and governance. This is often ‘remedial’ because of programme assurance work we or others have done. The project or its business case may be subject to a ‘RAG’ status report. There is an ongoing demand for programme outcome assurance work. Many programmes […]

Ruthless wild flowers are met with careful treatment by walkers.

Ruthless and Careful – can they co-exist in our business decision framework?

How careful and how ruthless are we in our day-to-day business decision-making? Careful Do we take ‘reasonable care’ when we make decisions? If not, we might be threatening our organisation’s insurance premiums. After all, the shareholders and compliance authorities will want us to have acted competently, considering the options and assessing relative risks. They will […]

Warm seas in summer mean it is easier to persuade people to enter the sea. So we can be accelerating programme outcomes by making the transition more comfortable.

Accelerating Programme Outcomes – Options for action

What can we do when a programme does not meet our expectations? Programmes that require substantial investment may have to promise the Earth to get their business cases approved. Especially ones that are ‘transformational’ and where the outcomes rely on people behaving differently. Benefits are talked up. Uncertainty and risk are under-played. Having ‘sold’ the […]

Retreat to the woods

Dear Blog – Postcard from a woodland retreat

Time for our annual retreat! We are sharing our idyllic woodland retreat with ~2,500 other guests. Yet as I sit here penning this postcard there is not a single person in sight. I’m surrounded by Silver Birch and Sitka Spruce and the trail-ways through the forest are eerily quiet. I can see dozens of cabins […]

Going slow - it hurts my motor to go so slow!

Going slow – is that a healthy business response?

 “Motors going slow” I am going slow on my walk. I’m inspired by this orange and white beauty parked in a driveway. The owner did tell me the make and model and the name of the specific paint colour but I wasn’t listening properly (I had to look it up later). I was just in awe […]

Fatigue - are you getting enough sleep?

Fatigue – how does it impact your decision-making?

Two bits of news about fatigue have popped up recently and raised my curiosity about how well I look after myself when major decisions are afoot. Firstly there was the news that; if you only get 6 hours sleep a night for 10 days straight, rather then the recommended seven to nine hours, the Royal […]

Nuclear skies- complex cloud patterns above

Nuclear options – decision made?

The Hinckley Point nuclear decision is a big one. I’m fascinated by the different stakeholder viewpoints reported in the media. They include EDF’s, the Chinese Government’s, the Opposition, UK tax-payers and electricity customers in the UK who, they say, will ultimately foot the bill for the Government’s decision. This decision is so big that the French […]

Common sense prevails - let's find out what the problem is before invoking the dooms-day scenario

Common Sense in decision-making

Have you read ‘Managing Public Money’? It’s a Treasury publication of the rules and guidance that public bodies and their Accounting Officers must follow when managing public money. Don’t be put off by the 217 pages – the main body of the text is only ~ 70 (the rest being appendices). In particular I like the Foreword. The one that […]

Can you trust an artist to stay on track with their commission?

Trust – its role in decision-making

I was reflecting on the nature of trust in business. And on its impact on decision-making (that’s what we spend most of our time doing in Business Decision Design®). I recently did a strategy implementation event design and facilitation for a really interesting medium-sized business. With all the changes to my work focus and new […]

The geometric shadows create a visual distraction.


Last week I said I’d do this week’s blog about ‘language’ and the biases that it can introduce to decision-making. Distraction. I got at least half way through and I got distracted by a commitment that I had made to the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce to blog about their AGM event. Then I got […]

The Victor paid attention to design in decision-making

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 […]

Reaching the buffers proves you have reached the end of the line. Time to revise your decision strategies.

Decision strategies

I’m travelling to London as I do most days. I need decision strategies as delays are common place and trains are cancelled frequently. But my experience has taught me that the network tends to recover quite quickly and rather than join the hundreds of other people crowding on to other less direct services I’m better […]

Recyling plastic waste as art. Agile long-term.

Agile long-term

Some of you who recognise ‘Dilbert’ (Scott Adams’s famous cartoon character) may remember the ‘Bungee Boss’. As a reminder, the boss showed up just long enough to make some visible changes that improved some key business indicators in  the short term. He was instantly promoted and moved onwards and upwards before the negative, long-term impacts of his […]

David Bowie's Hunky Dory Album taught us about choices.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Choices (turn and face the strain)

According to some – everything is a choice. It is up to you to make the choices that deliver your lifetime goals. There is no excuse. Nothing is pre-determined or imposed. Who feels like that? What about a new strategic imperative handed down from above in your working environment? Or a reduction in funding for […]

Addition is not always as simple as we expect

Addition – successfully add to the team

What happens when you make a new addition to the team? An increase in output / revenue / sales? Usually an increase in costs / reduction in available desks / a longer queue in the kitchen / another email address to add to the distro-list… An increase or decrease in productivity (“efficiency”)? An increase or […]

Turbo-charged. The Subaru Forester was always ready to leap forwards with minimal encouragement.

Turbo decision-making

I wrote the Board paper. The Directors made their decision. They consulted with those that had an opinion. They made a choice with conviction and clarity and set a timeframe for implementation. Turbo decision-making! How long did it take for others to reduce the scope and trade down the objectives? To build an alliance to minimise […]

Ambition to stay in the Spring moment

Ambition influences choices

This week I am thinking about ambition. Maybe it is because someone described the idea of having three kids under five as ambitious. Or perhaps because I have been reflecting on the ambition of changing the culture and behaviours of both staff and contractors in a civil service organisation. I notice how context sensitive ambition […]

Inspiration from shapes and colours in Spring blooms

Inspiration – from cancellation!

I do like to reflect ideas and inspirations from my working life (and sometimes from my family life) into my work Blog. But how can I find inspiration when the first act of the working week is met with: ‘Train cancelled’ due to; ‘shortage of train crew availability’. I managed to get up and out of […]

Which figure do you trust with tricky real-time decision-making? Youth or experience?

Perilous real-time decision-making

There is a type of perilous decision-making:  real-time decision-making that I have wanted to blog about for a while. However, the most vivid example I have in recent times involves me nearly ending up in a heap trying to get out of my shower and I’m a bit reticent to share that experience in a business blog! Studying […]

Sand trickles into a stone-castle like details into a form. When will we have enough detail?

Enough detail

Have you ever put something into a process only to have it turned back because there is not enough detail? It could be a booking form or purchase order or a business case or a personal appraisal. Sometimes I find this annoying. Web-based forms used to be the worst but the relentless competition for online […]

Elegant Design - a pedestrian area outside St Paul's in London

Elegant Design

I do like an elegant design. For me, examples of elegant design include: My kitchen table crafted from solid French Oak. My Apple devices (iPad and iPhone) just amaze and inspire me. Flint walls. A flower arrangement. Certain aspects of car design. My Philippe Stark citrus fruit juicer. My company logo (Thanks to Puree Design). […]

Symbols can be used to express knowledge

Knowledge Management – where is the value?

I work with businesses that recognise that; Knowledge has value They want to harness it for the benefit of the business. But when I ask them what they mean by knowledge management; They often don’t know So I ask if they are looking for business value by helping their people to build up more tacit […]

Rot at the Top - decay sets in from the moment a new organisation is launched

Rot at the Top

Looked at from underneath this piece of established trellis looks weathered but sound. Step out to the side or look down from above and it is immediately apparent that this structure has advanced Rot at the Top and is on its way to failure. Let’s hope no-one is underneath when the structure fails. Although it […]

What is our orientation? Sunrise or sunset? East or West?

Orientation in time – it’s a spatial thing.

It is a new year (relatively) and I have noticed that I’m confused. Less orientation than usual. 🙂 Wednesday’s seem to be earlier in the week than I expect them to be. And Thursday seems to be a long time coming around. It’s all a bit odd. This is not a single instance phenomenon. It’s […]

With floor boards this bad it is time to set aside indecision

In decision? Indecision?

I have to change the mortgage on our flat from ‘Residential’ to ‘Buy-to-let’ before the end of May. I find mortgage applications painful. Endless forms giving the bank you are already with, the same information that they already hold about you. If only they could find it in one of their creaky underwriting systems. So, […]

When is the timing right to photograph an ancient wall?

The secret of good business decisions is….. Timing

I’m nearly finished on this week’s blog. It’s a mentally challenging and conceptual taster for a technique we use in Business Decision Design® work. It brings fresh perspectives into strategy design or significant business decision making. I take a break to check the website stats for the last few weeks as I do occasionally. I’m staring at a […]

Marble fountain illustrates alignment of purpose from divergent viewpoints.

Alignment of different perspectives in decision making

I regularly travel up to London from Brighton, usually on the delightful train service that is called the Gatwick Express. It does go to Gatwick Airport but I think the term “express’’ might be construed as a ‘misleading action’ under ‘The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008’. The trip up to town is fascinating. […]

Blue sky meets blue sea. No pink in sight. Is this a gender issue?

The role of gender in decision-making

My experience is that gender is a heavy-weight discussion topic. I once took an excellent MSc course on ‘Change Agents’ Skills and Strategies’. I recall that it was only after two years of learning to be more open, more authentic, more empathetic people that we were allowed to divide the room into men opposite women […]

Wild flowers opening in October - who would take responsibility for that?

Uninvited Responsibility – what do we do with it?

A person dies. In this case a man in his early fifties. It means that a younger brother becomes ‘head’ of the family – he switches roles from the number two to the number one responsibility slot that he always dreamt of but never thought would happen…. A person is sacked. In this case a Head Teacher in their […]

Decision made! Applying principles helped.

Difficult decision? – it’s a matter of principles

Sometimes the decision is easy. Logic applies. The decision and the outcome can be parameterised. Data is available. The data is complete and accurate, a tried and tested method for evaluation based on the data is available. Nothing weird or disruptive is happening in the environment, stakeholders are of one mind… I did say ‘sometimes’! […]