When the Steering Group Is Not Behind the Wheel

I’ve seen a lot of steering groups. I work with many companies in different businesses, in most of the cases in a senior advisor role. The projects vary from ICT and process renewal to developing new services. Although the projects are very different from each other the decision-making in the steering groups has something in common: too few, too late, too seldom.

Far too often decision-making is postponed “to the next meeting” or “until we have more information”.

Far too often decision-making is postponed “to the next meeting” or “until we have more information”. I sometimes feel that what these phrases actually mean is “let’s hope time will take care of the issue”. It will not, it usually only makes things worse and moreover puts decision-making in the role of damage control although there was a time when it could have been on the driver’s seat.

Decisions are like ideas – you can’t separate a good one from a bad one before you have tried to implement it. Too often we try to foresee the future by looking at data from the past without connecting it to any earlier decisions. Decisions are assumptions, nothing more – we need to test their validity all the time and pivot anytime needed – sooner rather than later.

Furthermore, very few if any decisions are made in isolation and disconnected from past decisions. Instead the decisions (or assumptions) form a continuous flow. And our track record of good decisions or bad ones or anything in between is dictated by our ability to identify consequences of implemented decisions, collect facts about them and make new decisions to adjust the course of actions.

The opposite of a good decision is not a bad decision, but no decision at all.

The opposite of a good decision is not a bad decision, but no decision at all. The world around us is revolving and everything evolves – gradually or disruptively. Things change whether we like it or not and the best way to cope with it, is to actively change ourselves too. Good changes are born by making conscious decisions, bad ones forced by external, surprising events. Continuous decision-making is not only a response mechanism to changes in the business landscape, but also a way to take a leadership role – be it product, service or thought leadership in your market.  If you wait until you have the grand idea and do nothing in between you’re not in control of your journey, but more like a bystander in your market.

What is good decision-making then? It is weighting options, imagining consequences of implementation, planning what data to collect to validate the results, analysing data and applying experience, seeing patterns and starting the cycle all over again. And what comes to projects, decision-making is the steering mechanism; it is constantly needed to keep any project on track.

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