Management Tools

Decision Rights Tools

Decision Rights Tools

Bain's Management Tools & Trends survey focuses on the 25 most popular tools and techniques that are relevant to senior management, topical (as evidenced by coverage in the business press) and measurable.

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Decision Rights Tools

Decision Rights Tools help companies to organize their decision making and execution by setting clear roles and accountabilities and by giving all those involved a sense of ownership of decisions: when to provide input, who should follow through and what is beyond their scope. Clear decision rights allow companies to cut through the complexity often clouding today's global structures by ensuring that critical decisions are made promptly and well and result in effective actions.

How Decision Rights Tools work:

Each person involved in the decision-making process should be assigned one of the five decision-making roles:

  • Recommend: Recommenders gather and assess the relevant facts, obtaining input from appropriate parties, and then recommend a decision or action.
  • Agree: Agreers formally approve a recommendation and can delay it if more work is required.
  • Perform: Performers are accountable for making a decision happen once it's been made.
  • Input: Inputers combine facts and judgment to provide input into a recommendation.
  • Decide: Deciders make the ultimate decision and commit the organization to action.

These assignments should factor in the following:

  • Each decision should have only one Decider with singlepoint accountability
  • Each decision has one individual who leads the process to develop a recommendation, factoring in all relevant input
  • Agree roles should be used sparingly, typically only in extraordinary circumstances (e.g., regulatory or legal issues), otherwise they undermine speed and authority
  • Input roles should be assigned only to those with knowledge, experience or access to resources that are so important for a good decision that it would be irresponsible for the decision maker not to seek their input
  • Consider soliciting input from those with perform roles in order to engage early, identify implementation issues and enable upfront planning
Related topics Bain capabilities

Companies use Decision Rights Tools to:

  • Eliminate decision bottlenecks, such as those that often occur between the center versus business units, global versus regional versus local units, and different functions
  • Make higher quality decisions
  • Make faster decisions resulting in faster operational performance (e.g., product development, international roll-out, etc.)
  • Create a healthy debate on critical decisions, but through processes that feel productive, with minimal frustration
  • Have agility and flexibility in decision making and execution to respond to dynamic circumstances
  • Provide a common vocabulary to discuss decisions in a constructive manner across units

Selected references

Blenko, Marcia, Michael C. Mankins and Paul Rogers. Decide & Deliver: Five Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization. Harvard Business Press, 2010.

Blenko, Marica, Michael. C Mankins and Paul Rogers. "The Decision Driven Organization." Harvard Business Review, June 2010, pp. 55-62.

Davenport, Thomas H. "Make Better Decisions." Harvard Business Review, November 2009, pp. 117-122.

Garvin, David A., and Michael A. Roberto. "What You Don't Know About Making Decisions." Harvard Business Review, September 2001, pp. 108-116.

Neilson, Gary L., Karla L. Martin, and Elizabeth Powers. "The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution." Harvard Business Review, June 2008, pp. 61-70.

Rogers, Paul, and Marcia Blenko. "Who Has the D? How Clear Decision Roles Enhance Organizational Performance." Harvard Business Review, January 2006, pp. 53-61.

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