There are many decisions that have to be made during the course of every project. No matter how much planning takes place at the outset, many details will have to be worked out along the way. Also, don’t forget the unplanned work items and change requests that inevitably happen along the way. Not a day goes by without having to make decisions.
So, who makes them? Who finally decides? Is there a formal process? What if there are disagreements? How are conflicts resolved? How are decisions conveyed? What happens if people resist?
These are important questions. Valuable time will quickly slip away if the development team is unable to make decisions or get responsible people to do so. If your team truly wants to be agile, decisions have to be made quickly and decisively using the best available information. If the situation changes, the decision can always be revisited.
There are several approaches to making decisions. There isn’t a best approach or a simplest one either. Just stop dawdling and find a way to make decisions and get stuff done. Here are some ideas to consider.
Placing decisions in the hands of a single individual requires strong leadership. The decision-maker must have the respect and trust of those impacted by her decisions. This approach may spread authority over several individuals or concentrate it in one person. For example,
- Product Owner makes software feature/function decisions
- Scrum Master makes process decisions
- Tech Lead makes technical decisions
- Organizational manager makes all decisions (not recommended)
There are many ways for groups to arrive at decisions. The best approach often depends on the company culture and the personalities within the group.
- Consensus-driven (requires that objections be mitigated)
- Individual voting (majority rules)
- Range voting (people may cast multiple votes)
Pushing problems and issues to a committee for evaluation and direction is a common practice. It’s also inefficient. Not recommended.
Often the decision-making process isn’t clearly defined. It may even vary with the type of problem being solved or issue being managed. The worst situation is one in which nobody can make a decision and items just languish — lost in a kind of decision limbo.
Try pushing the authority to make decisions as far down in the organization as possible. It’s better, faster and simpler — Oh! — and it’s also more agile.