by Vasco Duarte
It’s an important topic in a lot of companies: Who gets to decide what? Democratic decision-making sounds like an interesting plan, and it is. But only as long as the company stays small, it often doesn’t work in bigger companies. If you are looking for a new approach, maybe this blog post by Stefan Roock can give you an answer.
Stefan works at it-agile and he tells how they got decision-making to work. When they started with the company, the CEO made most of the decisions. But they wanted to be a participative company, so more and more decisions were made by the people themselves. ‘Bigger issues were discussed and made with majority vote’ and all was well in paradise.
But the company grew. And when they had more than 25 people, the decisions making process somehow slowed down. And decisions that were made with a small majority didn’t improve the mood. As a result some decisions were questioned again and again. The company even went back to the CEO making the more important decisions.
They now have a couple of simple principles. The most important for me:
- Consensus doesn’t work with 30 people. But high commitment is important.
- Decisions should be reversible, so wrong decisions aren’t that bad.
- Decisions making should be decentralized.
They also have a couple of interesting mechanisms. Again, the most important:
- If the decision only impacts one person, he can decide.
- If the decision only impacts a team, they decide together.
- If the decision impacts more people, they vote and try to reach consent in the company. If that doesn’t work within 10 minutes, they name a ‘decider’. That person consults his colleagues and gathers perspectives. He then makes the decision and communicates why he made it.