Love lean decisions. 6 ways to be more lean.
Let’s talk about lean decisions.
How can you reduce wasted time in your organisation?
Statistics show that 30% of meetings are a waste of time. And we’re probably all familiar with the following time wasters:-
- Meetings where no decisions get made
- Having two, or more, meetings about the same issue and going over the same ground because you forgot what happened exactly in the first meeting
- Talking for ages about a decision and then realising at the end you haven’t stated exactly what the problem is, so most of what you talked about was irrelevant
- Trying to make a decision but not having all the information you need on hand
- Bottlenecks where decisions get stuck in queues waiting for approval
If there are systematic issues in your organisation, there are two approaches to consider.
If it’s driven by individuals, then you should consider decision training. Decision making is one of the core 5 leadership skills, and yet hardly anyone ever gets trained on it. Decision training is a core offering of my business X or Y and I have written about it elsewhere so in this post I’ll focus on a second area…
Decision process improvement
If decision making is an endemic problem due to the systems and processes in place (or not in place), then it’s important to look at process improvement. Sounds boring, but it’s actually incredibly interesting to look at techniques like lean business, which focus on maximizing value to the end user, and minimizing waste within the process.
The lean approach has its origins in manufacturers, especially in Japan, wanting to minimize errors, minimize waste, and maximize the customer value at the end of the process.
To tackle waste in the decision making process, consider the following 6 lean approaches.
- Have a clear decision-making process, and be clear who’s making the decision. Ideally decisions are made closest to the point of action, by a person familiar with the situation.
- Be clear on the time frame to make the decision, and what information you need to make it. Don’t be distracted by interesting but irrelevant material.
- Have all the information on hand beforehand – plan and prepare so that the decision making team has already read the information and can spend more time discussing the decision and not the facts
- Reduce meeting waste. Run them efficiently, don’t have them unnecessarily, don’t invite the world, have an agenda, write up the notes
- Record what happened in a discussion, and refer back to it
- Record the decision and monitor whether the decisions are getting better over time
Paired with waste minimisation, remember to focus on creating value for the end user of the decision – which may be either your customer or the internal people who are going to execute it.
- Are the tangible benefits clear?
- Have you delivered what the customer wants?
- Did they get a chance to have their say in the decision?
- Was communication handled well?
- Do they understand the rationale for the decision?
- Do they understand how it fits with the organisation’s overall goals?
- Is the specific plan clear for them to follow?
Ultimately, each organisation needs to design a lean process that suits its own customers and stakeholders, and strips out all unnecessary waste.
The lean approach is all about continual improvement, sometimes called kaizen in homage to the Japanese who are the leaders in all things lean, so the best organisations are always looking for ways to improve their decision making.
Often an external company like X or Y can help audit the way decisions get made, improve the processes and train the leadership team. The end results include improved customer value, greater efficiency – as well as improved team performance.
Posted by Rob Pyne. If you liked this content, sign up for the blog or follow me on twitter.