Making decisions at 2i2c#

This page describes principles to efficiently make decisions throughout the organization. We want to create a culture of trust, transparency, and action that is grounded in rigorous practices of doing the work to make the right decision. These principles should make it easier to guide processes or policies around decision-making.

Principles of decision making#

Here is a brief guide to how we make decisions across organizational areas. It describes the principles that we try to follow, as opposed to the specific mechanisms for decision-making.

Leave a paper trail#

Any decision and its results must be recorded in a discoverable space. Choose a location that is “searchable” or likely to be discovered by a newcomer trying to gain context. Generally this means documenting everything in the Team Compass. It is our Source of Truth for all organizational policy and practices.

Sometimes it’s important to have privacy

It is OK to have conversations in private at first, in order to ensure a safe space for discussion. Just make sure the necessary context is provided once a decision has been made.

Provide context, a plan, and a rationale#

When making a decision, bring it to others in the form of a proposed plan of action. Include the context needed to understand the decision and its impact, as well as a rationale for why this is the right plan. Assume that, if you’ve done the work to understand the problem and make a strong case for action, we’ll move forward with the decision.

Designate a decider#

Make it clear who has the decision-rights for a given proposal. Generally speaking, this is the person that makes the proposal in the first place (provided they have consulted all of the relevant stakeholders). For major decisions impacting the policy of a functional area, this might be the area lead. Use your best judgment about who should have the decision, and be explicit.

Timebox the discussion#

Make it clear when you expect feedback from others, and when you intend on moving forward. This helps others prioritize this request, and helps the proposer move the process forward. Choose an amount of time that you feel is appropriate given the complexity / risk associated with the decision.

Consult the right people#

Consult with others who have important information or experience that can help you craft a better proposal. For example, people with subject matter expertise or those who will be strongly impacted by a decision. Be specific about who you want to provide input and actively ask them to do so. Try to keep this number small to avoid bogging down discussions. If a decision requires coordinated effort from others, make sure they are aligned on a plan and consent to following it.

Iterate on the core ideas.#

When consulting others, iterate on the core ideas of the proposal. This improves the proposal and ensures that there is more buy-in from the organization when we make a decision. Do not spend too much time on the “small stuff” like stylistic or writing differences. Remember our goal is to be “safe to try”, not to create the perfect proposal.

Make it safe to try.#

Our criteria for moving forward should be “is this safe to try?” rather than “is this the perfect plan?” Assume we’ll move forward with a decision unless there’s a clear objection. Objections should be rare. Only raise objections if you think they pose critical risks to our strategy or our team. It is more important that we commit to a plan and learn quickly rather than getting it perfect the first time.

Make it safe to fail.#

We won’t get every decision right. That’s ok. If we see within a reasonable time that our action plan didn’t result in the outcome we expected, anyone should feel comfortable acknowledging the mistake, sharing what we learned, and trying something new.

Bias towards action.#

When in doubt, take action rather than asking for permission from other team members. It is OK if we occasionally make mistakes as long as we’re transparent about our decisions.

Trust one another.#

Assume that people proposing and making decisions are doing the best they can with the information they’ve got. Usually, they’ll be in the best place to make the right decision. If we don’t make the right decision, be understanding and supportive of one another.