Jul 4th, 2020

Seek out MAPs

The other day we discussed decision making with a group of executives at a startup. The conversation moved from “how do we ensure we have clear ownership and speedy decision making” to “how do we make sure we make the best possible decisions (in the shortest amount of time)?”

Surely a good question to ask – and one which too few people deliberate over. Most of us, if at all, spend a tiny amount of time to determine a way to assign responsibilities, but rarely think about and implement a system to get to better decisions. Which, if you think about it, is nuts!

Every company, and especially a startup, makes thousands of decisions – many of which fundamentally shape the organization and product. We ought to figure out how to make the best quality decisions – without slowing us down.

While talking this through with Jane, she reminded me of Mozilla’s MAP Framework — MAP standing for Multiple Alternative Perspectives. It works (simplified) like this:

People have functional responsibility and within those responsibilities they should always be empowered to take and make their decisions. I believe this is a non-issue for any functional organization (though, granted, I have seen orgs where even this isn’t true).

Where decisions become issues is typically where either multiple parties are involved and/or the topic is controversial. In those cases I suggest you follow a simple process:

  • Immediately after the need for a decision to be made is identified, a single responsible person is identified and the decision to be made is clearly articulated and documented (both these things often don’t happen and cause a ton of back and forth – as people are unclear who takes the decision in the end and what the exact decision point is).
  • The responsible person includes a diverse group of people in the “rounding out” process. You are looking for blind spots, pieces of missing information and biases which we all have (but often are not aware of).
  • You might find, through this process of rounding out your information set, that the decision to be made has changed. If so – the responsible decision maker will re-articulate the decision point and add the new framing to the earlier documentation (leaving the original decision point in the document so that people can later see how and from where the decision has changed).
  • Once the decision is being made, it gets documented and communicated – never make a decision in a vacuum.

It’s a fairly simple process – yet creates buy-in, gathers a much more complete set of inputs, roots out biases and blindspots (when done properly) and creates transparency and accountability.

Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you!

P.S. Talking about which – we have been busy creating our first two week live online course “FutureFWD”, where we will arm you with unique insights, frameworks and a practical toolbox for futures-thinking and leading in complex environments. I would love to have you with us on this journey. Check it out and sign up here!

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