Time to get autonomous
How many decisions do you make a day?
100, 1,000, 10,000??? Do you know?
35,000+ is the current agreed number. And for you as a leader that number can only be higher since you’re not only making decisions for yourself but for your team and company.
What are the problems with having to make 35,000+ decisions a day? Well…
- Fatigue – you simply don’t have the cognitive energy to manage that many day in and day out with high levels of accuracy.
- Bias – your decisions get skewed by your biases, reducing the chances of the best possible outcome and consideration for alternative perspectives that don’t carry those same biases.
- Blinders – you don’t know what you don’t know. Worse still, when you become so focussed on making the decision, you can lose sight of the context and relative importance.
Unfortunately in the current decision-making climate, I’m seeing more and more leaders default to your classic ‘command and control’ leadership e.g. I make the decision and issue the order, you just do what I tell you.
That’s no bueno.
I feel like I say this on a weekly basis: What’s the point of hiring smart, values-driven people and telling them how to do everything?
Answer: there isn’t one. You’re better off hiring randoms with low talent and just telling them what to do if that’s your style.
Instead, we need to focus on trusting the team to make decisions. To do this, we set the rules for autonomous decision-making.
- Assess relative importance – Your business, team, career, etc can only have so many REAL priorities. With that lens applied, what decisions do you really need to make? Which ones can you pass to your team to make, with some effective rules (see next point)?
- Set the rules – It’s amazing how effective people are at decision making once the rules and intentions are clear. Some simple rules can get you started with a foundation for decision making at the individual level. An example is ‘do whatever it takes, ethically, to keep a customer from leaving if they are unhappy, up to a value of $200 before approval is required’. This rule is simple yet packed full of guardrails from poor decision making because it defines the conditions then lets the employee decide on how best to solve the problem within those guidelines.
- Unpack your mental block – Why are you afraid to handover decision making? Is it your ego, fear, a need to feel valued, etc? Once you know, you can work on step 5 (below).
- Apply the heart attack test – This one always throws people for a loop. If you had a heart attack and your doctor said you could only make decisions for an hour a day at work, how would you handle this? The reality is you’d focus very quickly on which ones matter, then delegate out the rest. Now, let’s do that (sans the heart attack).
- Let $hit go – this one becomes a lot easier after you do steps 1-4. Quite simply, let some things go. So what if Bob chose a different paper manufacturer than you would have or if Joe spent $40 when he could have done it for $30? Let it go and focus on the things that get you the growth outcomes you’re after.