Decision making culture analysis

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Summary

In order to get a deeper understanding of decisions and how they are made in your organisation, this is a practical tool for analysing your experiences in the organisation.

Anybody who is involved in decision-making in the organisation can propose an example. The analysis allows you to discover patterns and possible inequities in your decision-making and find ways to do it differently.

Goal/Learning Objective/Expected Output

Understand your decision-making processes, discover hidden power dynamics.

Way/level of dealing with subject at stake

Analysis, reflection

Application in moderation cycle

Opening up, problem analysis

Duration

45–60 minutes

Group Size

4–8 people

Level of difficulty

Medium

Facilitator

The group process can be led internally. Ideally the facilitator has some general knowledge about decision-making processes. To ensure impartiality the facilitator should not participate in the process itself.

Materials needed

  • Flip-charts
  • Facilitation cards.

Process description

Case narrative (around 10 minutes)

Case giver: Tell the story of a recent big strategic development in your organisation, which can be considered typical in its dynamics:
How did it start?
How did it develop?
What is the current result?
Create a visual timeline detailing the key moments/milestones of that process.

Observers: Each pick one of the four perspectives listed in step 2. Listen to the story with special attention to that perspective. What are you curious about, what intrigues you when you listen with this special focus?

Drill into underlying dynamics (around 15 minutes)

Observers: Ask questions for deeper understanding from the point of view of your assigned perspective. Note key words and interesting quotes on the timeline.

Actors: Who was involved in this process, and the related decisions, from within and outside the organisation? Who was not involved? Who took the lead; who was informed? Where was/is the ownership?

Process: What was the relation between formal and informal arenas/settings in the process? How did the actual process reflect the strategic planning of the organisation? How were unexpected developments incorporated? Were there loops and redundancies in the process?

Content: Which arguments/factors had strong weight in the process? Which principles were followed; which were compromised?

Conflict: Where were points of conflict and how were they dealt with? Which issues were avoided; which parts were not implemented; which decisions were not taken? Was the decision-making process aiming for consensus, compromise, leadership authority, organised anarchy – or something else.

Identify Patterns and Consequences (around 20 minutes)

Integrated Analysis: Identify patterns in the process. Which features of the process ar worth highlighting? Are there specific actions during the pre-decision phase that led to undesired results in the post-decision phase? What underlying dynamics were most relevant to the process? How can you describe the decision-making culture in this organisation?

Brainstorming: How can these patterns be adapted to make future strategy development more sustainable? End with a final reflection by the case giver.

Debriefing options

Contrast the decision-making process with your understanding of inclusive and fair decision- making. Does the process reflect the equality and participation you aspire to in your organisation?

Share in the group how you felt in your role and if there were major insights you had. Can you apply your new understanding to other processes you are part of?

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