Why do approvals take so much time?
Why does it seem like decision making is taking even longer?
McKinsey & Company, in a recent blog post, identified a few trends that, honestly, I’ve seen throughout my 20-ahem year career in the workplace.
- Organizational complexity and unclear authority. No one feels like they have the authority to make a decision so they don’t OR multiple people fight to be the decision-maker, leaving your project team and workers confused and frustrated.
- Information overload. McKinsey argues that the reduced cost of information sharing makes it too easy to cc everyone. The executive is then left having to decide what is important and praying they don’t guess wrong and get surprised. I haven’t met an executive yet that likes surprises.
- Difficulty determining the importance of the decision they are making. In many of the organizations I have worked in, ALL decisions feel like high-stakes decisions. Mostly because these organizations (or key people in them) didn’t tolerate “mistakes”.
Underpinning the difficulties in making decisions and getting approvals is fear.
- Fear of making the wrong decision
- Fear of getting yelled at
- Fear of “looking bad”
- Fear of the unknown
It’s that underlying fear that causes decisions to get kicked around, unwillingness to take responsibility and ownership, repeated questioning of a decision that was made….
Their main point – Decide WHAT you are deciding. That will help identify what you are dealing with (how scary is that decision really), focus your information collection efforts and determine who needs to be involved in the decision.