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Delegate more decisions

Chase Damiano
13 min read
Delegate more decisions

Let’s talk about decision-making. You shared with me a painpoint: “My team isn’t making decisions as autonomously as I like.” If that’s you, keep reading.​

I’ve covered some of this in a previous article, primary sharing frameworks and perspective on tackling the increased volume and complexity of decisions within growing organizations. And if you’re looking for guidance on how to make better decisions, check out this article.

With our goal of getting out of the weeds by increasing team autonomy without sacrificing decision quality, let’s categorize all possible decisions into a simplifed view.

  • There are decisions you make. Let’s call them Type A decisions.
  • There are decisions your team makes. Let’s call them Type B decisions.

Furthermore, we often do not make decisions in vacuum. A decision-maker, to make the best possible decision, requires either information and/or input to increase the quality of the decision. Examples of each type are broken down below:

  • Types of information. (Let’s label this 1)
    • Data, metrics, reports
    • Online research
    • Standards, protocols, procedures
    • Regulations, policies, law
  • Types of input. (Let’s label this 2)
    • Others’ perspectives, viewpoints, input, approval
    • Gut sense, personal opinion

So, if we wish to increase our team’s autonomy in decision-making, our goals will be:

  • Convert as many Type A decisions into Type B decisions as possible (to decrease cognitive load on minor decisions).
  • Increase access to 1 to the new decision-maker (to improve the quality of decision-making).
  • Define the guardrails around 2, but with a watchful eye: a Type B decision will quickly convert to a Type A decision if left unchecked.

When others make the right decisions autonomously, clearly we’ve either hired the right people for our stage of business or we’ve set up the right expectations, processes, and training around decision-making. So, consider that whenever you’re sharing input, feedback, or approving work—it can be a pivotal point at which you can build yourself out.​

Types of decision points

Seeking inspiration on the types of decisions you can delegate? Note: I’m not suggesting you delegate all of these decisions today. But, food for thought: a version of your business that’s 10x as large will have a very different decision landscape than it does today. It’s worthwhile to consider the decisions and systems that will scale your operation—in addition to what may be relevant today.

Here’s a list I’ve seen with other founders and business owners:

  • Choosing between multiple options or priorities with high costs
  • Changing customer or prospective customer pricing/discounts
  • Making large investments of time or energy, i.e. taking on a big client, project, change effort
  • Switching vendors, service providers, softwares, back-ends, infrastructure, operating systems or other product or service
  • Setting or changing goals, financial targets, metrics, including definitions and data sources, for a team, department or division
  • Updating a template, process, workflow, automation or other resuable asset
  • Hiring or terminating employees and contractors
  • Spending up to X amount (one-time or monthly)
  • Signing a new contract, obligation, or agreement with outside parties
  • Taking on a company loan or debt
  • Changing employee salaries, benefits, compensation, or commission structures
  • Modifying and improving a proven process
  • Changing the brand, assets, look and feel, or formatting
  • Adding or removing products or services

Sticking with it

The theme of this article is adopting a mindset of delegating more decisions and empowering your team to be autonomous in their decision-making. That means arming them with the right information and input to help them qualify and decide.

But it’s execution and sticking with it that’s the hard part. As with all behavior change, you may sacrifice your own intentions and make exceptions. Likewise, even if we’ve previously agreed to it, your team inevitably will cross a boundary that you’ve aimed to set. That’s okay—that’s the exact surface area of what is meant to be learned.

Try this simple linguistic tweak to reinforce a (joint) decision to delegate a decision:

“We discussed that this decision is yours to make. I trust your judgment. Are you still able to make the decision on your own? How else can I help?”

Reflection questions

You saw some of this in my previous article The path to get out of the weeds. Consider this.

With respect to any process of which any step currently requires your attention and/or input…

  1. Which steps can the new owner complete autonomously (without your approval or feedback)?
  2. Which steps can the new owner complete collaboratively (with your approval or feedback)?
  3. Which steps require your input or decision (new owner cannot autonomously complete on their own)?
  4. Which steps require someone else’s input or decision?

Here’s to delegating more decisions and empowering others to act. 🎉

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