Reform Decision Making Hierarchy

More than ever, digital age organizations need to be responsive to signals and feedback from customers, from the market in general, and from regulators. This calls for a inclusive, accountable, and decentralized system of decision making. However, the status quo in many organizations is a centralized system that is not so inclusive or accountable.

Cleararchy does not mandate collective or consensus-based decision making as the way to make it inclusive. That path, in most corporate cultures, often leads to decisions that are made unilaterally but are presented as the result of collective deliberations. Instead, Cleararchy relies on clear demarcation of decision rights and input rights for each category of decisions. Input rights provide for inclusiveness. Decision rights provide for autonomy and accountability and they speed up decision making. To make this happen in practice, Cleararchy advocates the use of discussion and decision records and the practice of decision retrospectives. That's it.

  1. Category-wise assignment of people with decision rights or input rights.

  2. Discussion records

  3. Decision records

  4. Periodic decision retrospectives

Simple but not necessarily easy to implement in an organization used to conventional ways of decision making.

What about evidence-based or data-driven or data-informed decision making, one may ask. Cleararchy is highly compatible with these methods. In fact, data or evidence is usually demanded in any robust discussion towards a key decision. But in the absence of clear input rights or a discussion record or the prospect of a retrospective, it is non uncommon for people in power to provide a less than adequate response to requests for evidence or data. Cleararchy provides a formal framework to nudge decision makers towards greater rigor in decision making.

Besides, even tech companies, for all their expertise with data, aren't always rigorous in their decision making. In his memoir about his product manager days at Facebook, called Chaos Monkeys, Antonio Garcia Martinez points out:

As I observed more than once at Facebook, and as I imagine is the case in all organizations from business to government, high-level decisions that affected thousands of people and billions in revenue would be made on gut feel, the residue of whatever historical politics were in play, and the ability to cater persuasive messages to people either busy, impatient, or uninterested (or all three).