As I have studied a number of books on decision-making, it has been encouraging to find that academicians have validated my own experiences. One example goes back to a time, when I was working in a company that had an incredible product but some problems with delivering products on time. It was complicated by history in that the manufacturer had been behind often over the years as a result of demand out pacing production. The times had changed however and the delivery problem was not widespread in the industry.
My job at the time was to grow the sales for the company. It became apparent fairly early on that sales would not improve until deliveries improved. The order entry process was archaic at best with each order being entered, verified and verified again. This process alone required a tremendous amount of time.
Fortunately for me, the Customer Service Manager was very bright and when we discussed the situation, she immediately jumped into the data gathering with me. We spent a great deal of time analyzing what happened to the order from the time it came in until the product was shipped. Just as I had enlisted the aid of the Customer Service Manager, she too enlisted the help of people throughout the company who had anything to do with processing the order. Our investigation resulted in a recommendation to the Board that the company buy and install an MRP system that would streamline the information flow, greatly improve the productivity in Customer Service and result in faster turn around time from receipt of order to actual shipment out the door.
The proposal eventually grew to include all of the different areas of the company. A plan was put together that outlined the steps for the installation, training and start-up by each different department. Manufacturing was to go first followed by Finance with Sales and Marketing being the last group to go live. It was an education in implementation to watch the program unfold. The Head of Manufacturing took an approach that he would personally learn the intricacies of the system and then guide the rest of his team in the implementation. I took the extreme opposite position. Our group had been involved from day one. They understood the “why” of what we wanted to accomplish. They knew details of their jobs better than I ever would and I pretty much left the “how’ of what to do, up to them.
As it turned out, we were the first department to go live. While the support people were waiting for decisions from the groups ahead of us, they would implement what we provided. Even though we were at the tail end of the schedule, we were the first to successfully implement the new system. My counterpart on the Manufacturing side ended up with Epstein-Barr Syndrome and eventually took early retirement. This is just one example of why Decision-Making Rule #1 is so important.
The lesson I learned and all the books agree is that participation fosters a sense of pride of ownership and promotes acceptance, while implementation by edict or persuasion is high risk and prone to failure. Think about it from your own perspective. Everyone likes to be a part of the decision-making process and no one likes to be forced into anything.
Decision-Making Rule #1 – Do Unto Others as You Would Have Others Do Unto You. Great decision-makers use participation because it improves the chances for a fast, smooth and successful implementation.

ã Copyright Bob Cannon/The Cannon Advantage, 2003. All rights reserved.

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Bob Cannon helps visionary leaders make decisions that gain a competitive advantage. Check out other interesting articles available in the Taking Aim newsletter available at www.cannonadvantage.com . Bob can be reached at (216) 408-9495 or mailto: bob@cannonadvantage.com

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Author's Bio: 

Robert E. Cannon, successful business executive, left the corporate world in 2001 to start Cannon Advantage; a firm specializing in helping visionary leaders and business decision-makers who want to enhance the competitive advantage of their organizations.