There is a commonly held misconception that fast decisions are not good decisions. A mentality that believes adding layers of management, oversight, meetings, reports, and committees, will ensure better decisions. In reality, it leads to throwing random thoughts at assumed problems and sending departments in opposite directions in search of ghosts.

When we think of what it means to be a “big” company, we should think of an entity that has it all figured out. A place where “the best that money can buy” come together and hammer out complex problems efficiently.  Where agility and culture are incorporated into the mission statement and executed daily.

But we don’t. Quite the opposite actually! The decision making process in large companies today is overwhelmed by data, metrics, insights, summaries, yes-men, meetings, emails, social media, micromanagers, Zoom calls and, “hey you gotta second to chat?”

These slow down the implementation of solutions that your employees and customers are begging for. Slow decision making is a slap in the face to the culture you are striving to build, and that many of these large orgs claim to stand for.

A comprehensive study on why all this occurs would take up more pages than the Harry Potter book series. Instead of looking into each specific issue, let’s look at a few hacks that can help speed up the process in your organization today.

Delegate And Elevate

First, give employees power to make decisions without the repercussions of making a bad one. Handing someone power to make a decision, no matter how small or insignificant, can create an overwhelming sense of fear. No human on the planet (at least an employable one) wants to fail. They don’t need to be reminded about what a bad decision means, so stop focusing on it! This is especially important when empowering people who have never had the responsibility before.

Start small. Delegate decisions to them that are important, but not critical. It will not only train them on how to make decisions and emboldened them, but it will take menial tasks off your plate (and out of meetings).

Finally, trust the decision! Don’t host a 30 minute 1 on 1 quizzing them on every step they made to get to that decision. If it's within your criteria, accept it and move on. This will build trust with those in the department and help them build confidence in themselves to take on more serious tasks.

Standardize Communication Channels

One thing we do not lack in society today; accessibility. We have dozens of options for “pinging” someone or a group of people with the push of a button. Zoom, instant messaging, phone call, conference call, email, reply-all email, Slack, text message, Trello...the list goes on.

Set rules for when and how to use each channel. Need an answer right now to meet a deadline in 20 minutes? Phone. Deadline is 3 weeks away? Email. Want to get 3 people together for a quick question? Slack. Need to get those same 3 people together to discuss a complex issue? Zoom. Trying to get a hold of that person who is on vacation? None of the above, leave them alone!

And be firm in how you communicate. Ask to be taken off of the reply-all emails. Remind people to communicate with you via Slack first, email second, phone third, etc. Having a communication process in place forces people to think before they schedule a meeting, send that email, or start a Slack conversation.

Make Decisions In The Room

“Let’s marinate on that for a few days.” Unless you are a t-bone steak, this phrase, and the hundreds like it, need to be axed. Stop using them as a crutch to postpone decisions. 80% of the time, people walk out of the room and forget what it is they were “marinating”.  

For the few people that do manage to put some thought toward the solution, they have to spend time in the next meeting reminding everyone of what was discussed in the previous meeting. And then everyone comes to life and starts picking apart the solution by adding in their own opinions, which leads to another meeting. It’s exhausting!

Whenever someone suggests we “table” the decision, or push off the discussion, ask why - especially if you are prepared to discuss it.

“But Chris, my boss is addicted to micromanaging and loves meetings.” Hold them accountable with deadlines.

Set Hard Deadlines

The power of deadlines is not understudied. It’s a known phenomenon that having a looming deadline will make most humans work towards that goal with more urgency than without one. If a decision must be made for a later time, set an early deadline. That way there is plenty of time for discussion and rock kicking later on.

No one wants to have to say, “I didn’t get that done” in the next meeting in front of their peers. Deadlines keep people accountable and forces them to ask for help, or discuss an issue.

Your Turn

If you are a manager or stakeholder, give your intrapreneurs a smoother path to implementing solutions. They have great ideas for solving the problems you are facing, but they are suffocating from a lack of movement. What does your company do to speed up decision making and innovation?

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