Front Line Managers Online Meeting Follow-up

Linda Holroyd

Everyone, thank you for joining this afternoon's Front Line Managers' Online meeting on the Decision-Making Best Practices topic. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 
  • Monica Kaldani-Nasif, Kateeva
  • Monika Thakur, Oracle
  • Suruchi Sharma, T-Mobile
  • Marilyn Becker, Western Digital
We launched the program talking about the increasing importance of making big and little decisions faster and better now. Technology and the great enabler has armed us with the data to make these choices, and the connected world helps us all to leverage the data and information to make these informed decisions. In addition, in this age of the empowered customer, much rides on getting these decisions right, and there are financial and brand implications for not getting them right in this fast-moving world. Exacerbating these factors is the fact that the worldwide pandemic is impacting the health, safety and financial viability of millions of people. Whether you're making decisions just for yourself, or also for your family, your team, your company, your industry, your nation, today's panelists provided input and insights on how to get these big and small decisions right.

Our panelists talked about why we need to engage more of the right people in the decision-making process.
  • Secure a broader and more diverse swath of people involved in a decision-making process to help build engagement within and across the organization.
  • Engaging more people (but not too many more people) would help get provide more diverse perspectives and a wider range of options on the table for any individual problem. With these broader options, there's potential for bigger and/or longer-lasting impact. 
  • People at all levels appreciate the opportunity to get involved early in a decision-making process. They feel respected and important when it's clear that their input and their opinion matters.
  • To address complex decisions, people must not just consider the strategy for making decision, but also the pros and cons and data around the decision, as well as the short-term and long-term implications for the decisions made. Different people with diverse skill sets might do any of these individual things well.
  • When solving a problem, sometimes it's not about connecting the dots, and sometimes the dots don't make a line (or another expected shape). Getting a wider range of people involved in the decision-making process will help you see unexpected trends and hear new ways of thinking about or seeing something.
Additionally, companies were able to make broader impact with better decision making in the time of COVID.
  • Redeploying talent. A global telco redeployed 1,000 store employees to inside sales and retrained them in three weeks.
  • Launching new business models. A US-based retailer launched curbside delivery in two days versus the previously-planned 18 months.
  • Improving productivity. An industrial factory ran at 90-percent-plus capacity with 40 percent of the workforce.
  • Developing new products. An engineering company designed and manufactured ventilators within a week.
  • Shifting operations. Coordinating with local officials, a major shipbuilder switched from three shifts to two, with thousands of employees.
Below is a summary of best practices for making effective decisions efficiently.
  • Be outcome-focused and involve a wide range of people, but not too large a group of people.
  • Try these tactics for getting more of the right people involved in the decision-making process:
    • Ask for volunteers.
    • Ask 'the usual suspects' to do something beyond what they're generally selected to do.
    • Make sure the participants feel important and engaged as part of the process.
  • Communicate clearly and continually and measure and report on progress using pre-approved metrics.
  • Focus on the problem at hand and its short-term and longer-term implications.
  • Make critical small choices which lead to the larger desired result.
  • Don't over-think the small things!
  • Know when you have enough data.
  • Trust your gut and your experience.
  • Make the tough call, even when it's unpopular.
  • There comes a point where everyone needs to commit to a decision made. There are then two acceptable options: Agree and Commit or Disagree and Commit.
    • Agreeing and not-committing is not acceptable. Either someone is being difficult/obtuse or not actually agreeing.
    • Disagreeing and not-committing is not acceptable. Tolerance of this behavior can lead to lower productivity, reduced credibility, team dissension and other undesirable consequences.
  • Understand the motivations of each decision-maker.
  • Don't expect to make the right decision every time all the time. Have the courage to be gracious and direct if you've made an error in a past decision and be clear about why corrective actions need to be taken.
  • When you get a dropped-jaw, wide-eyed reaction to a decision made, talk through why that decision was made, bringing up the data, talking through the objections. 
  • Follow the 80-20 rule, erring on the side of decisiveness. 
  • Choose to become a better decisions. 
    • Practice making small decisions within your comfort zone.
    • Make better small decisions, which will set you up to make better bigger decisions.
    • Build yourself up - be positive with yourself that you're being decisive. Value the learning from a decision-gone wrong, without getting down on yourself for getting it wrong.
    • Give yourself feedback on your decision-making success. Understand the process you followed, learn about your decision-making tendencies, decide to get progressively better.
  • Set up a nerve center when managing larger decisions, to gather a representation of voices.
  • Insist on getting a 'yes-or-no' outcome at the end of a meeting. If there's a yes, there's a follow-through from specific people. If it's a no, then maybe it's the wrong task or not important enough!
  • What can be done with a well-planned 15-minute (standing) meeting might be more productive than a 50 minute meeting.
  • Empower leaders at all levels to participate in the decision-making process.
  • The people who are most impacted by a decision might be consulted first, even if it the end it's not their budget nor their decision. Without their buy-in and feedback, it would be more difficult for a decision to bring positive and measured results.
  • To increase the likelihood of buy-in, focus on facilitating and influencing a decision rather than driving a decision through command and control tactics like pushing, convincing, badgering. 
  • To improve the likelihood of collaborative decision-making, build a culture of trust built on authenticity, respect and transparent communications.
  • Avoid second-guessing yourself when a decision has been made. But if the data shows that the decision was incorrect, take corrective actions. 
  • Distribute decision-making to improve collaboration and engagement across the organization.
  • Keep asking yourself and your team some key questions:
    • How can we better optimize?
    • What would you like to do more of?
    • How can we better do this together?
  • To help influence all stakeholders into a common conclusion/decision:
    • Ask the tough questions.
    • Shift the focus from opinions to data.
    • Understand the motivations of all parties. 
    • Tell a structured story to illustrate the options.
    • Identify and work with the 'resisters'.
    • Include the 'resisters' in the process and conversation.
Recent Quotes from CEOs regarding decision-making, Linda Holroyd, FountainBlue
  • “Decision making accelerated when we cut the nonsense. We make decisions in one meeting, limit groups to no more than nine people, and have banned PowerPoint.”
  • “I asked on Monday, and by Friday we had a working prototype.”
  • “We have increased time in direct connection with teams—resetting the role and energizing our managers.”
  • “We adopted new technology overnight—not the usual years—as we have a higher tolerance for mistakes that don’t threaten the business.”
  • “We’re putting teams of our best people on the hardest problems. If they can’t solve it, no one can.” 
About FountainBlue
FountainBlue is a management consultancy which supports leadership and innovation for tech companies by providing strategy and execution consulting services around markets, products and people. 
Launched in 2005, FountainBlue has served thousands of innovators and leaders through our monthly When She Speaks series (launched in May 2006), our VIP roundtable series (launched in Dec 2013), and our Front Line Managers Online program (launched in May 2020). 
In response to the pandemic, starting March 2020, all FountainBlue programs will be held online, even after the shelter in place mandate is lifted. This will provide the opportunity to serve a larger and more global network of innovators and leaders. For more information, visit

About FountainBlue's Front Line Managers Online Series
FountainBlue's Semi-Monthly Front Line Managers Online series features a panel discussion of HR leaders presenting on leadership and innovation topics of interest to front line managers. 
Our meetings are conducted online from 11:50 a.m. - 1 p.m., generally on the first and third Fridays. Each meeting features articles and research on topics of interest for Front Line Managers in the network, along with additional input and advice from participating HR leaders within the FountainBlue network. Participating attendees are invited to send their questions to the panelists through email prior to the meeting or through chat during the meeting.

Please join us for other upcoming Front Line Managers Online programs.

  • August 21, 2020: Performance Review Best Practices
  • September 4, 2020: Uncomfortable Conversations 
  • September 18, 2020: Centered Leadership
  • October 2, 2020: Common Management Challenges 
  • October 16, 2020: Stress Management Best Practices
  • November 6, 2020: Productivity Hacks
  • November 27, 2020: The Gift of Feedback
  • December 4, 2020: The Next Normal
  • December 18, 2020: HR Leaders' Predictions for 2021

  • Have a great weekend everyone!

    Linda Holroyd
    CEO, FountainBlue
    650-646-1117 text and cell

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