Posts Tagged ownership

“Whose decision is this?”

Something our new CEO mentioned in the recent quarterly meeting was that we currently do too much decide-by-committee — we need to establish clear decision rights so after discussing an issue, we know who is responsible for making the decision.  He said that a question we should be asking a lot more is, “Whose decision is this?”

Yes!  Looking back, several times that has been the argument underneath the argument when my supervisor and I didn’t agree on the course to take.  On the surface it seemed that we were disagreeing on whether approach A or B was better — but actually the unspoken disagreement was, whose decision is this?

We’ve briefly touched on this issue before… but now to have a CEO who’s taking leadership in this area… wow!

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An ownership issue

I think the issue of who owns a decision is a big deal. (Yet another aspect that up till now I have not been able to articulate!) There are many technical decisions I want to own the responsibility for. Having such decisions taken from me (or having to fight to keep them) is discouraging.

A couple of quotes from Accountability: Freedom and Responsibility Without Control by Rob Lebow and Randy Spitzer illustrate the point:

The worker was unwilling to let the product go out the door with a less-than-perfect company logo, while the lead, answerable for production rates and completing work on schedule, insisted, ‘We’re not selling the logo — the product is good and it goes.’ …[T]his was an ownership issue as well as a quality issue….If you override the production worker’s decision, you might damage the morale and performance of the whole line, and, most important of all, you’re taking responsibility for something that we want the front-line worker to own. And that may be the most important issue facing us — who ultimately owns the work. (pp. 170-171)

[Dick] knew Kim to be reliable, and he trusted her judgment. Finally, he said, ‘Kim, you’re the expert on shipping here. I’ll leave it to you to choose the carrier.’ …Although his initial reaction had been to take command of the situation, Dick remembered that Kim owned the job of shipping at the company, not him. (p. 192)

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