Latitude in Decision Making

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

What is your opinion on the idea of forcing decision making downward. Do you think downward decision making is desirable?

It depends. There are a number of factors that will determine this direction. Ultimately, I will hold the manager responsible for the results of any decision that was made. This alone may guide you.

First factor is risk management. How much risk is associated with the result of the decision? If the decision is made poorly, how much damage can be done?

The second factor has to do with purpose. What is the purpose of driving the decision down a level? Is it a learning purpose? Is its purpose to obtain buy-in to the decision? Get clear on the purpose and that will help you determine the direction to move.

Determining whether a decision is appropriate for a team member to make, can be calibrated using Time Span. Time Span is often referred to as the Time Span of Discretion. Discretion is appropriate within the defined Time Span of the role. A machine operator with a defined Time Span in the role of one week, would be given the latitude of discretionary machine maintenance to determine when, within the week, in the midst of scheduled work, would be the best time to shut a machine down to complete that maintenance.

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