Team decisions are, at the core, delegating with superpowers. Using team decisions as a strategy has several key advantages. It means that you clear the way for leadership to focus on what’s important. You build team trust by enabling teams to make executive calls. And you flatten the hierarchy for a bit. Boost trust, enhance positive peer pressure and incentivize innovation. Or at least superior problem-solving, at all levels.
But this is not about why you should try team decisions as a strategy. It’s about how to do it. And, to some extent, it’s the same as up-scaling delegation. To this end, consider delegating for a bit. When you delegate, you give responsibilities to certain people. You then check what happened, and offer some feedback. When you re-delegate, both you and your delegate will know better. And knowing better is the first step to doing better.
This works similarly for team decisions. Only now you’re facing a whole team and a whole set of decisions. In fact, this might be challenging enough to be different. At least when compared to mere delegation. This complexity adds risks and overhead. You need to test team decisions and see if they work for your team. After all, team decisions are more than a strategy by which you delegate in bulk. So here’s how to do it. Please bear in mind that we’re covering a generic version,which you will have to adapt to your organization.
#1 Evaluate and rank potential team decisions
This one is particularly easy to do. Before you begin, make a list of all potential team decisions. Now, start ranking them. For best results, consider a ranking system graded 1 to 5. You will understand why later on. For now, let’s start ranking team decisions.
Firstly, choose an arbitrary criterion. For example, you can choose task complexity. Or how many people are needed for the task. Either way, rank potential team decisions based on that criterion.
Now, choose a secondary criterion. Rank decisions once more. Repeat until you’re satisfied. You can choose as many criteria as you want. What you get is insight into several key items.
Make sure you keep your team decisions limited to what a 3-people team can accomplish. This is similar to using micro-goals, but even more effective. You allow the whole team to participate to these micro-battles. And you typically have 2-3 people making the right call.
At this point, you should know what you can delegate to team decisions. You have several criteria based on which these decisions are organized. Furthermore, you can develop decision clusters.
What are clusters? They’re several decisions that rank similarly on most of your criteria. For example, the decision to hire an intern could be ranked 3 out of 5 for complexity. In like fashion, it could rank 3 out of 5 for responsibility. On the other hand, it could rank 4 out of 5 for responsibility. On average, that’s a 3-something rank. There you have it, it ranks in a level-3 cluster. Now you can decide that level 3 clusters can make for individual responsibilities.
#2 Assign team decisions in ranking clusters
When you delegate one-on-one, you explain what you expect, when and why. When you use team decisions, you will need to explain similar items.
You will first have to explain your system. Organize a smart meeting and have everyone participate. Explain your team decisions system. How tasks rank, what clusters are. At this time, it would be best to check your instincts.
Invite people to participate in re-ranking and re-clustering. Ask them to prepare by ranking on sheets you offer before the meeting. Moreover, ask them to consider adding other team decisions. Even better, ask them to consider adding other criteria to the list.
Make the meeting short and to the point. If possible, keep your speaking time to under 6 minutes. Here, have a gander at the ultimate guide to meetings. Compile the rankings and clusters from the team feedback. Now, you have a well-rounded system.
It’s time you make a decision. Should you assign team decisions or should you allow the team to self-assign? In light of what we know about motivation, it’s arguably better to allow your team to self-delegate.
To do so, consider building a panel/blackboard/whiteboard panel. Have all team decisions presented, along with rankings. Let each team member assume responsibility for whichever team decision they see fit.
For recurring team decisions, make it clear that self-delegates need to report periodically. This is an experiment, after all. In time, however, fewer reports reduce overhead. And you want teams to work on what’s relevant.
#3 Review and recalibrate your team decisions strategy
The last step to implementing team decisions is to check on how it all worked. Organize your second smart meeting so that the entire team can provide feedback as to how the system worked.
First, ask them to rank how well they think the system worked. Is the decision ranking process useful? Ask them to consider if decision trees would be an improvement to a decision table. Furthermore, compile the feedback as it is given. Make sure you have a clear picture as to what your team makes of the team decisions strategy.
There are some things you can expect:
- Team decisions will build team trust.
- Moreover, your team cohesion will improve significantly. It’s only natural, you’re having them cooperate in micro-teams, on various tasks and decisions. Thus, they get to know each other and grow as a team.
- Lastly, you will feel like a lot of your decisions are getting better. Why? Because team decisions improve leadership decisions.
Take all the feedback into account and integrate it accordingly. Also bear in mind that there are organizations with hierarchies so flat that there’s almost no management. Everything is dealt with through a team-decision-like strategy.
In “The Tipping Point“, Malcolm Gladwell offers this insightful example of Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex gets made without managers. Picture that for a second. If they can do it so well, you clearly can benefit from it.
To conclude, team decisions is a flexible, adaptive process. It empowers teams and builds trust and cohesion. It allows leadership to focus on the big picture. Ultimately, it could be the thing that your team is missing. Try this approach and let us know how it works.