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Jul 25th, 2018

Who Owns The Decision?

The other day I was at a slightly larger company where we were discussing a process which was pretty broken. Everyone agreed that the process didn’t work and needed changing – but when I asked whom I need to talk to, to get this changed, I received the ominous answer: “Someone higher up in the org.” After asking multiple times who that is (so that I can talk to him or her), it was still not clear who the actual decision maker was – and yet there were good people following a process they agreed was broken.

I have seen this movie play out a whole bunch of times over the years. Once an organization becomes big enough that not everyone can be in one room anymore; some people tend to push their responsibilities higher up the food chain (sometimes to a point where nobody even remembers who the decision maker is or was – like in a Kafka novel).

It is a dangerous thing to happen to any company as it makes the company less effective, stupid and ultimately disempowered.

I am a huge fan of extreme ownership: Everybody is empowered to make decisions. And everybody owns those decisions and their outcomes. All the teams I ever worked with, which have established a culture of ownership soar – their performance, moral and satisfaction is up and they stop engaging in broken processes.

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