A Decision Breakdown Structure (DBS) is a decomposed set of well-framed, loosely-coupled decisions that defines a thinking plan for any complex project or human endeavor. I have written numerous blog entries on the power of a visible, explicit decision model to foster innovation and to accelerate ideas into reality through massively parallel thinking. Because I tend to focus with clients on communicating the “hard” benefits of using a Decision Driven® methods and tools (innovation premium = superior solutions and results; acceleration premium = dramatically faster time to market), I sometimes short-change the softer benefits, particularly collaboration and buy-in.
A visible, well-framed Decision Breakdown Structure (DBS) for a project, business or mission provides a unique collaboration framework that can deliver a “cooperation premium“.
I have a set of proven decision patterns that make it possible to frame out the entire set of decisions that a project will face at the Project Kickoff meeting. The only exception to this is that I can’t know in advance how many sub-branches to create at the fan-out points in the model or what to name those branches (until their parent decision is made). For example, until your team makes the Product Portfolio decision, I can’t tell you how many Product Concept decision branches to clone or guess the names that you will give to each product you decide to pursue. However, I know what the product design decision pattern looks like for any product, at least until another one of these “fan-out” points is reached (e.g. Use Cases to Support or Functional Model). Therefore it’s 100% possible to know in advance the next few layers of decisions that your team will face, to maintain a “rolling wave” proactive plan for your team’s thinking.
Someone on your project should own the DBS and start every project meeting by displaying it and saying, “Here’s our Decision Breakdown Structure; we’re here today to make progress on Decision X or report on the results of Decisions A, B and C.” This gives immediate context to the thinking that needs to be done and a chance for team members to suggest different priorities, “Why are we working on that trivial decision before we’ve decided on Y?”
A visible DBS simplifies the project, provides focus and creates a sense of control. This “can-do” spirit helps the team avoid a lengthy startup phase where meetings are consumed with “Why are we here?” frustrations.
Every decision is a self-contained collaboration node; an opportunity for team members to come together to cooperate to create a better future. A visible DBS gives team members a chance to “self-assign” themselves to the decisions that excite them or that they care deeply about. This gets their creative juices flowing and builds momentum and buy-in among the team. Decisions create the future and creativity is fun and empowering.
A visible DBS tends to reduce office politics; most folks play nice when they are faced with a well-framed decision with a clearly understood context and priority. If the decision has a proven criteria pattern, it becomes much harder to “cook the books” or maintain a hidden agenda. Faced with the risk of exposure, even the most self-interested individuals will bow to the team’s collective wisdom and priorities.
Every decision that is made using visible, consistent, participatory methods builds overall team buy-in to the results. This makes life on the project a lot more enjoyable and further accelerates the delivery of results by reducing second-guessing of decisions and foot-dragging during execution.
If you’re launching a new project, now is the ideal time to use the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF) to take control of the project’s destiny and reap an innovation, acceleration and cooperation premium. Please contact the Decision Driven® Solutions team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to start a DDSF trial today.