Decision Making Transparency (The Why)

In the swirl of growth, it’s easy to confuse and conflate transparency on the decision making process, with transparency on actual decisions and details.
The Why is scalable because it carries the original intent of our decision, and not just the tactic.

Even in radically transparent environments it can be difficult to consume all of the information peripheral to your day to day work. There is simply not enough time in the day. And the multi-tasking would kill you.

And then you have the information that is deemed too sensitive or distracting to share. Where to draw the line is outside the scope of this post, but suffice to say there are always pieces of information that are too sensitive or risky to share broadly.

The reality is that our work lives are largely influenced by external factors. Decisions driving team changes, promotions, strategic shifts, project choices, and tool choices can have a dramatic impact on the lives of the various stakeholders. In an ideal setting these decisions would all be “local”, but that is rarely the case.

In the swirl of growth, it’s easy to confuse and conflate transparency on the decision making process, with transparency on actual decisions and details. The former is powerful and engaging. The latter is so frequent that it’s impossible to keep up. But it is easy to conflate the two and assume that both are impossible.

It’s not impossible. Communicating the decision framework starts with some fundamental questions …

  • Who makes the decision? Who is impacted?
  • How is the decision currently made (factors, timing, process, etc.) ?
  • What are we attempting to maximize and minimize with our decision?
  • What is our path for continuous improvement with this decision making process?

The last two points are critical. We typically frame important decisions based on hierarchy … with the “decider” holding the power (and responsibility), and those impacted playing a receiving role. It is unidirectional.

Consider a different perspective …

Answering these questions takes work. But it scales remarkably well.

Those impacted by decisions are often the best to determine whether those decisions were effective. Did we realize the desired effect? How can the decision making process be improved in the future? This is the “Why” that people most crave. The Why is scalable because it carries the original intent of our decision, and not just the tactic.

When people advocate for transparency, what they typically care about is not knowing every detail. We quickly realize that’s impossible. But rather they care about understanding how and why the decisions are made, and how and why they can participate in iterating on the actual solution.

We trust others to make decisions. And they trust us to make decisions.

And then we enter into a partnership to continuously improve on those decisions.

It’s the combination — trust and collaboration — that turns the typical hierarchal decision making model into a partnership. And that lets information sharing scale.

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