Move Forward Quickly with Critical Leadership Decisions

agile leadership alignment decision-making
Four leaders having a discussion around a conference table

By Julie Springer

October 16, 2022

When a leadership team can’t work together to make a critical decision, it not only prevents the organization from being able to move forward, but can have a negative impact on relationships between leaders and teams across the organization. It often leads to one or more of the following problems:

  • People go in different directions to solve it on their own
  • Individuals lobby for their position and it becomes political
  • The issue remains stuck and continues to take time and energy to be “revisited” over and over
  • The senior leader decides on their own and the others resent it

To avoid this, there are four steps that any leadership team can master to make decisions more quickly and effectively.

1 - Get clear on the context and outcomes 

The first step to take when the leadership team is faced with an important decision is to get clear on the context and the outcomes. Ask, “Why is this important now?” and, “What is the desired outcome?” You need the answers to these questions before you start considering options. This helps the team to stay focused on the result, rather than jumping to a solution or arguing over approaches without having clarity on purpose.

2 - Identify options 

Once the team is clear on the context and the drivers behind the decision, take some time to come up with options. Teams can easily get stuck because only one or two options are presented as potential decisions. Brainstorming opens the group up to new possibilities and allows for more voices to be heard.

While brainstorming, agree to suspend judgement. This means that ideas will not be evaluated, while they are being generated. Allow ideas to flow freely and capture them in a way that is visible and clear to everyone.

3 - Establish evaluation criteria and methods

After generating ideas through brainstorming, it is time to evaluate the options. To avoid power struggles and ensure a good analysis process, agree on how the options will be evaluated. There are many frameworks and tools that can be used for evaluation.

A few that I recommend include:

  • The ICE Score Canvas: Evaluate ideas based on a scale of 1-10 for three factors - Impact, Confidence and Ease (Learn more)
  • The Effort/Value Matrix: Evaluate ideas based on cost relative to value (Learn more)

While it is important to choose an evaluation method that is a good fit for the problem you are trying to solve, the most important thing is the conversation, shared understanding and insights that come from the interaction. The criteria help the group to think through the options in a clear and thoughtful way, so everyone understands how and why the decision is being made.

4 - Agree on how the decision will be made

The final step is to make the decision. The evaluation criteria and method inform the decision, but do not dictate the decision. The group still needs to come to an agreement. Don’t assume that everyone knows how the decision will be made. Instead, have an open discussion about how the decision will be made and address any concerns.

Some options for decision-making include:

  • Consensus: Discuss as a group until you come to a decision that everyone can support
  • Majority Vote: Everyone gets a vote and the idea with the most votes wins
  • Final Decision-Maker: Everyone shares their thoughts and then one person makes the final decision

Following these steps will reduce drama, increase cohesion and help the leadership team to move forward more quickly and effectively through decision-making. The ability to make good decisions quickly is a fundamental skill for any leadership team to develop.

Bonus Tip: When decisions are complex, challenging or contentious, bring in a skilled, neutral facilitator to guide the group through these steps. This is our specialty at Conduo. Contact us to discuss how we can help.

Receive Practical Tools and Tips

Start by downloading the guide: How to Use Discovery to Focus Your Agile Teams on Solving the Right Problems and gain free access to powerful resources, delivered to your inbox every week. 

You will be added to our email list and we will send you practical guidance and tools for Outcome-Driven Planning. Unsubscribe at any time.