156 – Decision making: The calendar effect and local government planning.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                              700 words

calendar

This is the fourth post in a series. Most councils prepare their plans in a very conventional way. All of the councils where I have worked have been the same. The planning process is frequently criticised but seldom challenged. There is a better way.

Despite the effort put into strategic planning by many organisations, it can actually be a barrier to decision making. Michael Mankins and Richard Steele believe that difficulties in strategic planning are attributable to two factors:

  1. The calendar effect – it is usually an annual process.
  2. The business unit effect – it is usually focussed on individual business units.

This is completely at odds with the way executives actually make important strategic decisions. They make the decisions that really shape organisational strategy and determine the future direction of the organisation outside the formal planning process. And they often do it in an ad hoc way without rigorous analysis and debate. Continue reading

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155 – Decision making: Policy and decision making in local government.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                              750 words

menu

This is the third post in a series. Policy should guide local government managers and their teams in making most decisions with the confidence that if the decision is challenged it can be assessed against the policy and shown to be justified.

Some decisions won’t be able to be made this easily and a ‘one up’ escalation or other simple decision review processes should enable a decision to be made quickly and efficiently. There will be some decisions that are outside existing strategy or policy that will need to be referred to more senior management for new thinking about the decision that is required.

In a high performing organisation, making decisions that are consistent with organisational strategy, policy and plans should be straightforward for the majority of decisions. Continue reading

153 – Decision making: Some challenges for local government.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              580 words

face butt towel

This is the third post in a series.  Sometimes making decisions is difficult and a guide is helpful. Local government has some particular types of decision making that frequently present challenge. These decisions need to involve the right people at the right level in the organisation. Often they cut across functional areas.

Two of the key challenges for local government in becoming a decision-driven organisation are whether or not to centralise decision making and how to ensure cross-functional cooperation in decision making. I will start with centralisation. Continue reading

149 – Decision making: Making good decisions quickly in local government.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              650 words

RAPID decision image

This is the second post in a series. Have you ever felt that there were too many opinions being aired and not enough decisions being made?  Making good decisions quickly is the hallmark of a high performing organisation. This includes major strategic decisions and operating decisions. It is important to know which decisions are really matter and then ensure that they don’t stall because decision making roles and responsibilities are not clear. This is the first challenge for local government.

Good decision makers think through who should recommend a particular direction, who needs to agree, who should have input, who has ultimate responsibility for making the decision, and who is accountable for follow through, and then they set a process up to make decisions.

Good decision processes then become routine and are known to everyone, which provides better coordination and faster response times. Continue reading

148 – Decision making in local government. A series.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              400 words

HBR january 2006 cover

This series of posts explores decision making in local government and the connection to planning and strategy. I have postulated for some time that the inability of council’s to make difficult decisions leads to failure to decide on strategy which prevents prioritisation of action. See what you think.

Decision making processes in local government can be episodic, slow, disempowering, inconsistent and frequently disconnected from either strategy or operational needs. Continue reading