Conflict can be hidden or open.
behavior (covered in a previous
post) is one type of hidden conflict. Another common type is decision avoidance.
When you make a decision
you are taking a stand. Taking a stand
is risky – you could be wrong. Often people
that want to keep their options open will shy away from decision-making. This is politically
Sometimes a decision is
avoided because key stakeholders or sponsors don’t feel as though they have
enough facts. They chose to continue to
analyze the problem instead of acting on what they know.
While analysis is reasonable
to a degree, it can go too far. Analysis paralysis
is described in Wikipedia as “when the opportunity cost of decision analysis
exceeds the benefits”.
People may use established rules to avoid making a
decision. This is especially effective
when change is related to an emerging market or the creation of a product that
doesn’t conform to the company’s current processes. In failing to make a decision to break from existing
processes, the initiative could be drowned in inappropriate constraints.
What can you do about it?
- Change efforts require strong executive sponsorship. That sponsor should be an active and public participant in decision making and communication.
- Two-way frequent communication is also a requirement. The communication plan should include a clear description of decisions needed and the impact delays will have on the change process.
- Less is more! Communication and documentation should be clear and complete, but keep explanations simple and appropriate to the audience in question. I’ve seen many an insignificant phrase throw a decision making body into a tailspin.
- Break down decisions into smaller pieces. The results of smaller immediate decisions will help assuage people’s fears. Smaller steps are also easier to correct if they don’t produce the desired outcome.
- Finally, change efforts related to innovation are a special breed. When creating new products in emerging markets, consider separating the effort from established processes and management structures.