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Decision-making process for our team #2267
In our recent team workshop, we said we wanted to improve our decision-making processes and clarify outcomes.
People said we rehash the same conversations because decisions aren't properly concluded, that they don't know when or how to give input sometimes, and that it's not always clear who actually should have the final say on a given decision. We have extra challenges with this because our team is distributed and we're never all in the same meeting.
I am a huge decision-making nerd and I love highly structured processes. But I don't think that approach is right for this team, which is very dynamic, spontaneous, and autonomous.
So, I recommend we use a lightweight version of the Advice Process.
In brief, the advice process is:
Some key points:
I suggest we adopt these practices:
Let's use this decision, "What should our decision-making process be?" as the first test case. I will be the decision-maker. Now is the time to have input.
Please read this article: Decision Making (Reinventing Organizations Wiki), to give us a shared understanding and vocabulary about this kind of decision-making.
I agree with the entire proposal. Using Github issues with the assigned person being the decision maker is a clear process. It's not to far from the way we work today so there should be no cost for the team to adapt.
What's still unclear to me is how we decide who's the decision maker. It's usually pretty easy to know for "ground" decisions. For example, choosing between Figma or Adobe XD would impact the way engineering team work so it should be consulted but the decision clearly belongs to a designer.
It's more difficult when it comes to more high-level, more general decisions. I'll take #2213 as a example of such case. Some of you may feel that this issue should not be opened because it's rehashing the same discussion about terminology but this is not the point here, I'm taking that as an example because of the subject.
Technically I'm the one who's going to implement it, yet I don't feel legitimate to take this decision: it's about UX and terminology, I'm neither a designer nor a native English speaker. Also there are multiple people with strong opinions on this issue.
In such cases, how do we decide who's the decision maker?
Good question @Betree - in the example you mentioned, I think the most important thing is to actually just pick a decision maker and go with it, even if there's no clear right answer, because ambiguity and rehashing can be more expensive than taking a 'wrong' decision when it's pretty low-risk, as in this case. If it's a high-risk, unchangeable decision, then we should be a lot more careful.
If we had the advice process implemented already in the lead-up to the issue you mentioned, I would say that I had taken ownership of the terminology clarification project, and therefore I was the decision-maker. I gathered a lot of team input for the outcomes to that decision, and documented the decisions we made.
But when do we revisit decisions? @xdamman felt we had learned more and therefore should review the decision, while I felt it was too early and we were changing course mid-stream.
If @xdamman wanted to do another round of decision making about terminology, he could launch a new decision with himself as decision-maker, define the scope, gather input, and document the outcome. However, I would hope he'd take on board feedback from the team about whether it was the right time for that, if he was the right person, or if it was a priority.
He feels he's the expert in UX and product issues, but in advice process, while experts should be consulted and listened to, they aren't always the decision-maker. Then again, just because I am the one most bothered by ambiguous terminology, or I'm the one who brought it up first, or am a native English speaker, doesn't mean I should necessarily be the decision-maker either.
There isn't a right answer. But here are the things I can say for sure: