Our default organizational decision-making model is flawed. Here’s an awesome alternative! by Vu Le

One of the things EDs and CEOs have noticed is that we get “decision fatigue,” and one way it manifests is in our frustration at having to make even small decisions when we’re at home. The other day, for example, my partner (who also directs a nonprofit) was hungry and asked which of two packages of ramen I recommended she eat. I was unable to answer. “I’m torn!” she said, “Just make the decision for me!” I stared at her for several more seconds before hissing like a cat and scampering into the living room to hide behind the couch.

Decision fatigue is real, y’all, and it has sometimes led to fights and arguments in our household over the most ridiculous things. (“Which movie should we see?” “Hisssss!”) It is also symptomatic of the weakness in our society’s default decision-making philosophy. This philosophy is basically top-down and hierarchical, where the people who have the most power have the most decision-making authority, even in areas where they have the least amount of knowledge and experience. The ED/CEO makes the final decisions on everything. Staff who challenge the decisions get into trouble. And the board sometimes vetoes the staff’s decisions.

This decision-making model, which we have unconsciously accepted as the default, is disempowering, inequitable, exhausting, and oftentimes nonsensical. Why should a supervisor, who often only sees a fraction of the frontline work, get to have final say in programmatic matters? Why should I, the ED, who spends most of my time outside the office talking to donors and funders and napping in my car between meetings, get to have ultimate decision-making authority on programs, operations, and other areas that I don’t oversee everyday? We need a different, better, more rational way of making decisions in our sector.

Luckily, there is an amazing alternative. These past couple of years, my organization Rainier Valley Corps has been experimenting with a decision-making model called the Advice Process, introduced to us by our Managing Director, Ananda, who has introduced many pivotal new philosophies and practices at RVC. Ananda wrote about the Advice Process here (and provided feedback for this post) but I want to elaborate on it a little as an ED who was used to being the ultimate decision-maker who is now not making many decisions at all at his organization and who is actually very happy about it.

By the way, “Advice Process” is a terrible name. Sorry, people who created this concept; you invented an amazing and game-changing model, but gave it an unimpressive name. So I spent weeks coming up with a new name for it: The Feedback-Informed Networked-Autonomous Lateral (FINAL) decision-making process, which sounds cooler, I hope you will agree.

In the FINAL decision-making process, whoever is closest to the issue area is the person who makes the decision, provided they do two things: Check in with people who will be affected by their decision, and check in with people who may have information and advice that might help them make the best decision.

Read the full article @ NonprofitAF

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *