Trying to pin the blame for a bad decision on an individual or group is fairly common corporate activity. We believe that errors are not to be tolerated, and that anyone who commits an error should be identified and punished. Too often this search limits and inhibits people from speaking up and making good, creative and bold choices in their organizations. The fear of failure prevents action.
We have to “blame” the process more and the people less.
But who doesn’t make bad choices, mistakes, and accidents due to omission or over confidence?
It’s part of life and learning. The more I learn about chaos theory, and the butterfly effect, the more difficult it is to identify an individual who can be singled out as the responsible party for a “decision gone wrong”. The trial and error decision-making process is still prevalent in the natural world, and will continue to be part of the corporate world.
What would happen in your organization if you stop seeking someone to blame, and focus on the decision-making process itself and the evaluation of results, independent of individuals?
Where there is a failure, first take a look at the following list, answer the questions to determine if the decision-making system was at fault, or if it was an individual failure within the process.
Run de-briefings and analysis of outcomes, good and bad, and find elements that were responsible. Let your people know that mistakes can happen, and can be tolerated, but that a systemic process should be used in order to eliminate or reduce errors.
9 steps to better decisions
- What are our objectives and expected outcomes?
- What information should we accumulate in order to make a decision?
- What information is not important for this decision?
- Who is evaluating and processing the information?
- What criteria are being used to evaluate and process the information?
- What are the possible scenarios based upon the present information?
- What is the most likely scenario or best decision for the company at this time?
- Who are the decision-makers for this issue and why?
- What elements are critical and essential for success?
Shift your focus from the person to the process itself, what is or was missing? Why?