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Decision memos support educated, documented and quick decisions

Different employees have a different level of bravery to make decisions on their own. Sometimes, they are missing required context, they are uncertain whether they are allowed to decide something or they don’t want to be held responsible for the consequences of a decision.

This is when they turn to their manager and ask them to make the decision. As a manager myself, I am happy to make decisions so that no one is blocked in their work. On the other hand, the employee most often has better information about the problem than I do, so it is their responsibility to convey the required information to me (and I might then add the information which I have but they don’t).

A bad example of that would be to contact me and simply ask for a decision without explaining anything (sometimes I don’t even know what they are talking about, because I was sunken in some other topic). In such cases I usually do one of two things: (a) I tell them to compile the required information and get back to me later or (b) I decide something at random and wait for them to get very upset about the decision at which point they will gladly give me the required information.

But what would I wish for when asked for a decision?

  1. A description / illustration of the problem that shall be solved and the context.
  2. Which criteria are important for a good solution.
  3. The options and how they perform with respect to the criteria, including a suggested option.

I have had positive experiences to prepare this information on three slides in a clear way so that they can also be passed around and stored somewhere for future reference. If the decision is really complex, important/impactful and there are a lot of viable options, you can also prepare the evaluation in Excel and only show an overview of the results on the slide.

If you prepare a decision in this fashion, your manager (also works for customers) will have a much easier time to make a quick decision on the topic. Most likely, they will follow your suggestion, unless they have information that wasn’t available to you.

Published inBest Practices