Decision Making for Agility


Now that we’ve implemented a Rapid Feedback Process and set the expectation for Rapid Results, it’s time to focus on Decision Making.

If our organizations are unable to delegate decision making, improvement agility will not take hold. But if we’re unable to mitigate risk, leaders may not be willing to delegate.

Let’s focus on improving fast and failing safe.

Delegate Decision Making

To get those rapid results, it’s time to enable employees to make quick decisions.

 The goal is to delegate decision making to the: 

  • lowest level of the organization
  • within acceptable financial & operational risk level
  • while ensuring adherence to company standards & guidelines
  • and meeting objectives

Management Conversations

As a continuous improver, you can lead the conversation with leadership or management around decision making. 

Start with open conversations about risk acceptance:

  • What risks could be encountered if decision making is delegated?
  • How can the risks be mitigated?
  • What is the risk of NOT delegating?

Encourage your leadership to come open-minded.

Failing to delegate presents risks as well. The company can stagnate without new ideas. Or, may miss out an incredible idea or improvement that results in significant savings or new revenue. Further, the company is likely missing opportunities to engage employees in improving the business. 

Facilitate discussion that fully evaluates the pros and cons so your leadership can be supportive of the changes. 

Decision Framework

Utilize the results of that conversation to establish a decision framework to define the decision boundaries and to mitigate risk. 

The decision framework may include considerations for financial and non-financial impacts. While your company may already have a framework in place for decision making around financial expenditure, it's important to look at the non-financial factors. Employees often have ideas that require little or no investment, but may have impact on employees, customers or other resources. Determine the acceptable boundaries and limits on delegated decision making.

Publish the decision framework in a location accessible to all employees. Train them on the framework and show them the escalation pathway and how to get approvals for ideas beyond their authority.

Accountability and Leadership Support

Work with your leaders to ensure they support both failure and success that can result from the new process.

Within these frameworks, leaders can encourage small improvements and learning from failure. If an idea fails, evaluate the failure modes and work on improvements for the next implementation. If an idea succeeds, celebrate those ideas and share them with the leadership to demonstrate the power of innovation.

Then, periodically re-evaluate the decision criteria and make improvements.


The RACI matrix is a highly-effective tool to facilitate roles and responsibilities and document decision making authority.

Document the decision maker for each task or for each level of decision-making authority. Include any requirements for informing or consulting other groups before making a decision.

See the RACI lesson in the Change Management course for a refresher.

Action Items for This Lesson

  • Create a Decision Framework
  • Work with leaders to balance improving fast and failing safe
  • Develop a RACI-D matrix
  • Communicate and train employees on delegation and decision framework

Lessons in this Course:

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