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Executive Excellence Series (1 of 50): When You Fail to Communicate the Rationale Behind Decisions

October 21, 2017

Every decision you make results in change. Change generates uncertainty and anxiety for your team members. A decision that demands change without the courtesy of detailing the rationale behind it exacerbates that anxiety into controversy and mistrust: the perfect formula for resistance, every time.

There are seven steps to making a decision effectively according to the standard cognitive thinking teachings of most universities:

  1. Identify and understand the constitution of the decision.
  2. Gather the information you need to support (or disclaim) the rationale for the decision.
  3. Recognize and assess alternative decisions that develop.
  4. Weigh the information and alternatives to prioritize decision possibilities.
  5. Use this to choose the best alternative.
  6. Start to implement the final decision.
  7. Actively monitor and review the results and consequences of the decision.

Follow this process to both arrive at the best decision in a business re-engineering scenario, and to make you an authority on the rationale for the decision and the benefit(s) of deploying the necessary action(s). With this background knowledge and the confidence, the process has given you, you are well prepared to explain why the decision is important.

With your authority solidly in place, communicate the rationale of your decision to everyone who will be affected by it.  Having done so, assess your audience's comprehension of the rationale. If they clearly understand it, they will buy in to the resulting change, even if they don't fully agree with the reasoning. If they lack substantial comprehension, engage them in discourse until they do. Follow this process and you'll stop the insanity of resistance to change due to a lack of buy-in resulting from rational non-comprehension.

Additional Reading

A Key Building Block for Successfully Implementing Lean/World-Class Value Stream Management: Communications, Ron Crabtree

Barriers to Success in Continuous Improvement – Overcoming Them Requires an Urgency for Change, Ron Crabtree


About Patricia Linn

Patricia Rae Linn is a Senior Business Development and Marketing Strategist with over 27 years in growth strategy development and implementation. As an agency owner and consultant, Pat has fulfilled Federal, State, County and Municipal government contracts, and hundreds of diversified industry client contracts in the private and not-for-profit sectors. She is known for her vision, innovation, ability to influence perception, and ease of managing complex projects fluidly.


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