Being an Agile Coach – Making Effective Decisions

change-ownership-agile-decisionsMAKING EFFECTIVE DECISIONS

Decision-Making is obviously one of the major functions of the Agile coaching process.

Myths of Decision-Making:

  1. The higher up the decision is made the better it is. So, if the President makes the decision it is obviously a better decision than a decision made by a Vice-President. This is not better because we will be moving back to centralization where one person dominates everything. Decisions tend to naturally go up the organizational chart eventually anyway.
  1. The longer we consider a decision the better the decision will be. This is not always the case. But decisions can grow stale and stagnate if dwelt upon too long. The more complex the issue, though, typically more time needs to be allotted… not to think… but to experiment!
  1. A good decision made late is better than a mediocre decision made early. A decision that will really benefit a team needs to be made early rather then last minute. Precious time is often wasted in the lollygag scenario. Time factors often dictate that a decision must be made. And even if the best decision is not made, at least a decision was made in time.

Causes of Ineffective Decision-Making:

  1. The lack of clearly-defined goals and objectives. People don’t act because they don’t know which direction to go. Decisions can’t be made to do things that haven’t been previously decided to do.
  1. Insecurity of position or authority. Decisions are postponed because the leader  is afraid of the possible consequences.
  1. Lack of information – no alternative seems clear OR all alternatives seem viable.
  1. Desire to retain the status quo or simple fear of change – there is comfort in the comfort zone. But still, because things change and the team needs to develop and change as the market changes.

The Problem-Solving Process of Decision-Making:

Decisions are made, typically, to solve problems:

  1. The orientation to the situation – we get familiar with the background of the problem. Analysis, experience, training, skill, and administrative intuition are helpful in determining the truth of the situation.
  1. The identification of key facts – we will never have all the facts but we can get the facts that truly identify the reality. Utilize effective questioning. We want to ask “open” questions that will give us information rather than a simple yes or no. Carefully sift through the information and deduce logically
  1. The identification of the major problems in the situation: Look for the causes of the effect that have been seen or demonstrated. Why are things happening the way they are? What caused this issue? Again, carefully sift through the information and deduce logically. Get insights from others who can give information from another perspective.

Often, the unique situation you are in requires you to do a lot more research and problems solving to help leaders make good decisions… At the end of the day though, I would suggest, always taking an empirical approach. Experimentation is key. The more you experiment… the more you can learn quickly!

Author: peter

Peter Saddington is an Organizational Scientist and Certified Scrum Trainer. You can find him at AgileforAll.com

3 thoughts on “Being an Agile Coach – Making Effective Decisions”

  1. Blog Publication

    Hi Peter,

    My name is Meghan Robinson and I’m with an organization called Scrum Alliance, specifically representing our AgileCareers team. AgileCareers is the only job board dedicated to connecting Scrum and Agile organizations with qualified, passionate, Agile professionals.

    We have just announced the launch of our new AgileCareers site and are looking for exceptional Agile and Scrum article content to post on our AgileCareers News blog (http://bit.ly/AgileCareersNews)

    I would like to ask your permission to post the following article(s) on our blog:
    “Being an Agile Coach – Making Effective Decisions”
    “The Perfect ScrumMaster Job Description”
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    This content will be exposed to thousands of agile and scrum employers and job seekers, in addition to our 450,000 Scrum Alliance members. If you’re interested, please send me an updated version of your article(s).

    Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    -mrobinson@scrumalliance.org

    1. Meghan, thanks for noticing our great content! However, you also will know that duplicate content on the interwebs is a big no-no. I’d be delighted to have you guys link to this article, but we won’t duplicate the content on your site. Thanks!

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