Let The Team Decide

I tweeted the following on Twitter last night.

One of the things that grinds my gears is the lip service that organizations pay to “autonomy” when in practice they do the exact opposite.  A classic example of this (and I’ve seen it in multiple places) is the selection of tools for use by the team.  The organization creates a group (or even worse brings in a set of consultants) that is supposed to standardize the set of tools that are used within the organization.  In many instances, the people chosen to set the direction are not going to be using the tools day in and day out and may not have a proper appreciation for effective knowledge work management (but that’s a completely separate topic).

The response to this that I often receive is generally one of the following “we need to have some control”, “we can’t let people get whatever they want”, “we need to standardize on something”, “we need to manage costs” etc etc.  This suggests that we know more about the work than the people actually doing the work or we don’t trust our people to make good decisions.  If either of these points are true in your organization, then you are in deep trouble.  Get out now.

Let me cut to chase and simplify things for us by suggesting an alternative approach. Instead of specifying the tool, let the teams choose.  Let those doing the work decide what tools work best for the work they are actually doing.  Provide an explicit decision making framework that the teams can use to choose their own tools if you actually need to constrain a particular variable such as cost. Examples of guidelines that can be in a decision making framework could include:

  • Tool should be cloud-based
  • Annual subscription/license fee should not exceed $5,000 a year
  • Teams should be able to report with ease certain measures
  • Needs to integrate with a certain third party solution
  • Etc etc

I know I’ve probably upset the sensibilities of a few people.  I think that’s ok.  I hope we’ll all be better for it.



3 Replies to “Let The Team Decide”

  1. I just love this post! The problem is tool decisions (in my experience) tend to be more about power and control in organizations than logic or common sense. Go figure.

    This same phenomena applies in so many areas; for instance I can tell that the person who designed my washer and dryer has never had to use it every day…


    1. Hey @Carolyn – thanks for the feedback. Yes is a big time gateway drug that gets in the way of actually getting things done. But it is difficult to get a man (or woman) to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it! ~Upton Sinclair.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s