Agile · Change Management · Decision making · Leadership

Brief thoughts on leadership and decision making

Turns out this week has been even busier than I expected so I am only now posting two quick reflections on leadership and pop culture just to get caught up again as well as a few words on Agile to wrap up the week.

One of the key questions on my mind has been around how our product team can make decisions about everything from the priority of what work to do to the ways to balance prospect demos, client support, and new feature design.  I’ve written before about decision making both here and here.  In some ways these posts could be summarized by saying collaborative decision making by the team is a great way to reflect the Agile principles of being self-organizing and of pushing decisions down to the lowest level so that those closest to the issue can decide how to address it.

As our wider team and in fact our whole company plunge into a season of intense busyness and growth the issue has again surfaced about the best ways to make decisions.  I don’t think our firm is unique in having an unwritten understanding that the person who gets to make “the call” on what path to pursue is the real leader regardless of what if any titles people have.  If I try to summarize my thoughts on how leadership and decision making relate I would use the following three inter-related points:

  1. Good leaders empower the right people to make decisions so that folks on the line have the knowledge and support to make quick decisions when they need to rather than having to wait for other people to tell them what to do.
  2. Good leaders draw people into the decision making process, involving relevant stake holders and deciding collaboratively whenever this is practical so that the team feels ownership of what direction everyone is moving.
  3. Good leaders know how to make decisions decisively to keep the team moving forward, keeping aware of important information so that decisions are not made reactively and then communicating decisions clearly so that people aren’t left in the dark.

I could of course say a lot more about these three ideas and the ways they are best embodied.  And I could talk at length about the ways we are struggling to implement this vision of how good leaders make decisions.  There is a lot more that could be said about leadership and decision making because in truth it’s not that simple.


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