I’m a firm believer in “surveying the landscape”. I think the time you invest understanding your clients and customers needs, the better off you are. It’s one of those things that’s just reasonable. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t pedal solutions before you know the problem you are trying to solve. Which is why what I’m about to say feels blasphemous…
Sometimes it’s just not that hard to understand the real, honest to goodness business issues that are right in front of your face. Furthermore, left unchecked, some could mean curtains for your customers. In that moment, make the tough decision.
For instance, it really doesn’t take much to diagnose a gaping gunshot wound. There is no need to take someones temperature and have someone step on the scales when there is an obvious diagnosis and prescribed course of action. I would classify these types of issues as Organizational Emergencies. These issues need immediate attention! They need decisive action and the trade off between a “timeliness bias” and “consensus building bias” is wildly weighted toward timeliness. If your business problem is of this variety, don’t be afraid to make the tough decision.
In the agile community, we lean toward a complete consensus building model. In my mind, this is a very, very good approach. However, this makes Organization Emergencies more precarious. Often times the process of complete consensus building is near impossible to achieve, and left with the choice of making a tough call or throwing up our hands, we choose the path of least resistance. The typical choice leaders make between errors of commission and errors of omission is to choose omission, every single time (and twice on Monday). After all, we don’t really track this type of error. This makes the process even more difficult to manage and time begins to slip through our fingers.
I truly believe the majority of the decisions organizations need to make have a clear “consensus building” bias. This is why I feel the agile community has it right. But, when you recognize those rare occasions where delay might have dire consequences, find the fortitude to make a decision and trust your instincts.