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By The Numbers

Workplace Survey, Findings

1.Workers are struggling to work effectively. 

When focus is compromised in pursuit of Collaboration, neither works well.

2. Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration. 

Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.

3. Choice drives performance and innovation. 

Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.


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Collaborative decision-making can be difficult. However, using a simple six-step process, managers can structure their decision making processes in a way that promotes team and stakeholder collaboration.

Most decisions fail because of organizational rather than analytical issues. Poor leadership, a faulty problem-solving process, poor teamwork, and lack of commitment are often the underpinnings of failed decision processes. Failed decision processes lead to conflict, loss of credibility, diminished competitive advantage, increased costs, inadequate inclusion of stakeholders, and poor implementation. Here is a six-step process to help to improve organizational processes and teams to improve decision-making. 


1.Ensure Leadership and Commitment.  Two decision tools that are instrumental in ensuring leadership and commitment are part of the decision process are development a vision statement and creating a decision map. A vision statement can motivate and inspire a group and creates an image of the desired end product. It focuses the group on the target, where they are ultimately going. A decision map creates a road map outlining the path the group will take and breaks the overall decision into a series of smaller, more manageable steps. A decision map or path establishes leadership and alignment by demonstrating knowledge of how the decision process will go forward, thereby eliminating confusion and uncertainty about what will happen next. 

2.Frame the Problem.  Framing the problem can easily be done using a fishbone diagram and an influence diagram. A fishbone diagram enables the team to focus on the content of the problem, by honing in on the causes of the problem rather than the symptoms of the problem. It also creates a good picture of the collective knowledge of the team about the problem. An influence diagram provides the basis for quantitative decision analysis that can be used to compare alternatives. An influence diagram helps teams identify all factors affecting the decision so that an important influence is not omitted inadvertently. It clarifies relationships between decisions to be made, uncertainties that may unfold after the decision is made, and desired outcomes. 

3.Develop Models to Measure Success. Two evaluation models that help groups measure success objectively are developing an objectives hierarchy and creating a strategy table. An objectives hierarchy allows a group to graphically communicate values and illustrate tradeoffs. It also provides an opportunity to compare alternatives and assess a monetary value to the impacts of decisions. Identifying alternatives that overlap or are not independent is a main focus. Creating a strategy table enables the group to display options and consider strategy themes in an organized manner. This approach is excellent when considering multiple and complex alternatives and ensures that a comprehensive set of feasible options can be developed. 

4.Collect Meaningful, Reliable Data. All management decision processes require information or data. Often however, the information that is collected is not of real use to the decision making while other information that is critical for effective decision making is not in the process. The most telling impact of this is the real cost and resource impacts of collecting too much, not enough or the wrong information. The result is a decrease in the credibility of the alternatives developed and selected. Additionally, there is a need in any decision process to focus information collection so that only information that is critical to the decision making process is included. Data overload is a common sentiment of many groups and a typical reason many decision processes are compromised. 

5.Evaluate Alternatives and Make a Decision. Through a decision matrix  the group can organize its thoughts about each alternative or solution according to criteria defined by the group. Developing and agreeing on the evaluation criteria before discussing how well (or poorly) each alternative meets the criteria is the first step in developing the decision matrix. The evaluation of the alternatives or strategies can now take place in an objective manner. This process allows the leader and the group to identify the strengths and weaknesses of proposed alternatives or solutions.  Not all alternatives will achieve project goals in the same way or to the same level. Prioritization through cost-benefit analysis allows the group to compare and contrast alternatives that have different outcomes or achieve different goals. The outcome of this process is a list of items detailing their specific benefits and estimated costs. This method is beneficial when maximization of goals is important. 

6. Develop an Implementation Plan. Successful decision process implementation can occur through the use of action plans and decision tree diagrams. An action plan identifies all the needed actions, target deadlines for critical activities, as well as who will complete the action and the estimated cost or resources needed. It provides the group with the ability to layout what should happen and then track what actually happens. Decision tree diagrams allow the group to see the level of complexity associated with implementing an alternative or solution. It moves the team from the planning phase, which often holds implementation considerations at bay, to the real world where implementation issues become the focus. Decision tree diagrams also enable a team to identify needed changes in procedures or at an organizational level.