The decision tree is a useful method of delegation and development of your team. It is a tool discussed in “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott that I have used successfully throughout my career and with many teams. Here is the basic philosophy:
Think of your project and your company as a green and growing tree that bears fruit. In order to ensure its ongoing health, countless decisions are made daily, weekly, monthly. Each person on the project and in your company has a good history of making decisions in certain areas. The area and level of decision is different for each person but each individual has a history. These areas of good decision making history are leaf-level decisions. These decisions can by made and acted on. You do not need to hear about them. It is your goal as a supervisor and project manager to move more decisions out to the leaf level for each person. That is how you will know and measure the progress each person is making in their development.
There are four categories of decisions.
- Make the decision. Act on it. Do not report the action you took.
- Make the decisions. Act on it. Report the action you took daily, weekly or monthly.
- Make the decision. Report your decisions before you take action.
- Make the decision jointly, with input from other people. These are the decisions that, if poorly made and implemented, could cause major harm to the project or company.
The analogy of root, trunk, branch, and leaf decisions indicates the degree of potential harm or good they can make to the company as action is taken at each level. A trunk decision isn’t necessarily more important than a leaf decision. Poor decisions at any level can hurt an organization, but if you unwittingly yank a leaf off a tree, the tree won’t die. A leaf decision will not kill the tree if it is poorly made and executed. A wrong action at the root level, however, can cause tremendous damage.
The goal of the Decision Tree is threefold:
- To identify clearly which categories decisions and actions fall into, so that an employee knows exactly where he or she has the authority to make decisions and take action.
- To provide employees with a clear upward path of professional development. Progress is made when decisions are moved from root to trunk to branch to leaf.
- To assist companies in consciously developing grassroots leadership within their organizations freeing up executives to take on more challenging responsibilities themselves. A direct outcome of using the Decision Tree is that learning is provoked.
Developing other leaders is a major responsibility of every leader. Developing others allows everyone to rise to a higher plane of responsibility. If those around you believe their job is to do what you tell them, you’re sunk. Neither of you will develop to take on higher responsibility. So help yourself and others by moving decisions up the tree.Tags: Delegation, leadership