At its simplest, Brexit is about implementing the answer to a question. We were asked, ‘what would be better, x or y?’ we chose x and, in doing so, delegated our authority to the government to make x happen.
From watching the sitcom/horror fest that is our parliament dissolving into something beyond nonsense (I feel that we need a whole new vocabulary of hyperbole, having gone way too early with ‘crisis,’ ‘disaster’ and ‘sh**show’, all just soooo 2018), I’d suggest that there are some basic insights and protocols that might have helped.
At HCA we often find clients struggling with decision making. Either, making the decisions (inadequate information, not sure who the decision maker is, not sure who’s accountable) or getting decisions implemented, getting them to leap off the meeting minutes or powerpoint slides and into action. There’s a simple tool that can really help, and I’m sharing for anyone who’s interested. Theresa May, you’re welcome :-). And thank you to Bain who developed this tool a few years ago, it’s fab, I promise!
Step 1, be sure to frame the decision:
Be sure of the question you’re asking. Write it down and commit. Don’t send someone off with a vague brief (‘can you take a look at marketing?’ for example). Make it specific – in the question (‘I’d like to understand the marketing resources allocated to product X, and recommendations for change’), in the time frame (‘I’d like your thoughts by the end of next week’) and the output (‘please summarise your findings on one page using this template’).
Step 2, this is the fab bit:
Use RAPID to make sure that decision making roles are clear, and to maximise the chances of the decision being implemented effectively. Here’s how:
R is for Recommend. This is the person who’s going to do the work, bring the recommendation to the decision maker, having evaluated options and considered relevant perspectives. One could have imagined that this was the Brexit Secretary’s job (am I crazy?), for some time it has appeared to be Theresa May, and now it’s either all of parliament, Oliver Letwin or the European Council, I have no idea. In your work, just make sure you know if it’s you, or if not you, then who?
A is for Agree. These are people who have the right of veto over a recommendation. The Recommender must bring these people ‘into the tent’ and negotiate with them to finalise a recommendation. You don’t want too many of these (as parliament has shown us through its series of meaningless votes); usually they will be people who have technical insight (e.g. legal) that is necessary to the recommendation’s being viable. Or it could be people who will need to provide resources for the recommendation to be implemented (or Performed in RAPID language).
P is for Perform. These are the people who will be required to turn the Decision into action. It’s a good idea to have these people front of mind before embarking on important decision making to ensure momentums not lost between decision and action. And seeking their Input (see below) as part of the decision making process is always a good idea. I attribute a lot of the hedging we’re seeing in parliament to politician’s being very wary of being in the wrong place when the music stops. No-one wants to ‘Perform’ – i.e. have to deliver on whatever is decided. Not least because the process to get to the Decision will have been (whenever it happens) a record breaking mess.
I is for Input. These are people who have something to contribute to the recommendation – their Input will make it stronger. Usually they’re people with insights that are important, but may not have an entire picture to be in a position to make a rounded Recommendation. Customer facing staff or engineers – who have super-valuable information but may not hold the strategic or financial context – or be aware of all the trade-offs in coming to a Recommendation – would be an example. And – see above – if you’re going to rely on them to implement the decision, why wouldn’t you want their thoughts up front?
D is for Decision. You know you’ve got RAPID working in your organisation when ‘who has the D?’ is a common, but unfraught, question. This is the person who receives the Recommendation and ultimately agrees, in which case you’re into Perform, or disagrees, in which case either a) back to Step 1 with a further, refining, question or b) make sure the result is clearly communicated to everyone to prevent organisation ‘whack-a-mole’ where the same question pops up (often poorly disguised as a different question) in ten other forum over the next month. Back to Brexit, goodness knows now who owns the D; I’m for a People’s Vote but that’s a whole other topic!
Have a go, at the end of a meeting where next steps have been decided, leap to the flip chart, put the letters RAPID down the left-hand side, put a clear and unambiguous question at the top, and put names to each of the RAPID letters. Trust me, it’ll change your life (or your work at least!).
As I said, Theresa May, you’re welcome.
Oh, and as a final PS, if you’re working in an organisation that loves to fiddle around with job descriptions and org charts, I’d say even more reason to have a go at this. If you use RAPID project by project, or decision by decision, it can be a much more flexible way of creating clarity without kerfuffle.
Human Change Agent