Did you ever experience lengthy discussions about a problem during a meeting and you never get to start working on it? Or a decision that was made is repeatedly questioned by team members?
Here are four tips that might improve the decision process of your team:
A first idea to solve a new problem is almost never the best. Use it as a starting point but you usually find a better solution by discussing, refining and iteration through ideas. A colleague pointed out that design thinking processes can help you.
If a number of ideas come up in team discussions, it can be useful to list the pros and cons of each solution.
Maybe you could even do a SWOT analysis. And there are always cons.
Collecting this information is useful in different ways. It can show when an idea has not been understood by everybody (quite normal). It can show an issue or an advantage of an idea that nobody was aware of before.
Once the list is completed, the team is aware of the implications of their decision. I find this an important commitment driver.
I took this idea from Robert C. Martin’s book 'Clean Architecture' where any architectural decision should be made as late as possible. As developers we like to have a recipe, a collection of small steps that will deliver safe and sound results. But the truth is, mental work has no recipe. In the beginning of a project or at the start of a new problem we usually know very little about it. The problem space is only clear for a couple of steps, the rest of it gradually becomes foggy and obscured.
When a discussion about one detail has been going on for a while, ask this question: "Do we need to decide this now?"
First of all this question can direct the discussion towards a solution language.
Second of all, postponing a decision to a later point in time can be liberating for the moment. We can focus on the next steps that are clear for us and can make a decision more easily. And we are sure that we will learn more about this postponed question on the way and eventually we will reach a point, where making the decision will be easy.
You can think of this as iterating decisions just as you would iterate other tasks in your daily work.
From time to time I observed teams where a decision is repeatedly questioned by team members. A lot of time and effort can go wasted in such a situation. This might be an indicator that the team did not commit to the decision.
One way to avoid this is to use the Consent Decision Making method. I learned the method of Consent Decision Making from agile coaches at my workplace. The method is described in the sociocracy 3.0 framework.
We at idealo try to establish such a culture. We ask "Does anybody object in starting with this idea until we learn otherwise?". From my experiences this helps to commit on a decision, to start working on it and adapting continuously as we learn more about the problem.