Decision-making processes in agile leadership

by | Dec 5, 2019

A new challenge

Up to now, management levels were used to leading, guiding and controlling their teams in clearly predetermined scenarios and predefined project plans.

With increasing agile working methods, but also through the ever necessary digitalization also in the management processes, the leadership images and decision-making processes are changing.

Agility as a risk?

“Agile” has been on everyone’s lips not least since the advent of the SCRUM method in software development. The ever faster moving and changing world demands faster and more flexible management methods. A compelling consequence is a shift of decision-making authority to lower management levels and specialists. Instead of a division of labour, the focus is on independent action towards a common vision.

Does this now mean that the manager of the level above can simply hope that the employees are working in the right direction?

No! Only stable decision-making, prioritisation and commitment processes are becoming increasingly important as a “counterpart” to flexible working methods.

Decision-making processes – What is important?

  • Forcing a quality process to exchange the right definition and understanding of the business requirement between sender and receiver or between customer and supplier.
  • Objectifiable evaluation criteria and scales, in order to be able to take the evaluation also “intuitively” correctly.
  • Common and sufficiently precise understanding of the task and the current status as well as the goal. This understanding alone is enough to establish a commitment.
  • “Intuitive” assessments of the situation and necessary next steps should be named and made available to other team members. Ignoring intuitive evaluations leads to “white spaces” in the discussion, that is, a thing that is not talked about, but which becomes more and more present the longer it is ignored.
  • Task prioritizations must also be subject to clear commitment. The manager must ensure this at all times.
  • Decisions in an agile environment must be recognizably committed in order to avoid subsequent disputes, blind performance and negative moods. The commitment must be carried out objectively. Objections must be resolved in a resource-oriented manner.
  • Subsequent feed-backs and “manoeuvre criticism” are to be carried out in a forward-looking process. The “How can we do better in the future.” replaces the “Why did this happen?”

Furthermore, it is necessary to develop certain skills in the team.

  • Knowing the mechanisms of how humans make decisions in the emotional and cognitive systems is a prerequisite for allowing distributed independent decisions.
  • Trust and unconditional appreciation among team members must be actively promoted and demanded.

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