One of the great take-aways I received from the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott was the idea of the Decision Tree. This is a great visual tool to help your organization be more productive (bear fruit) by identifying clearly, which categories decisions and actions fall into, so that an employee or volunteer knows exactly where he or she has the authority to make decisions and take action.
This word picture communicates to those you lead where they are free to make decisions and how to grow and empower others to get along without you.
Decisions are arranged in categories based on their importance and impact on the organization. The analogy of root, trunk, branch, and leaf decisions indicates the degree of potential harm or good to the organization as action is taken at each level.
Poor decisions at any level can hurt an organization, but if you unwittingly yank a leaf off a tree, the tree won’t die. A Root Decision if poorly made and implemented could cause major harm to the organization.
Make the decision. Act on it. Do not report the action you took.
Make the decision. Act on it. Report the action you took daily, weekly, or monthly.
Make the decision. Report your decision before you take action
Make the decision jointly, with input from many people.
The goal is to provide employees or volunteers a clear upward path of professional development. Progress is made when decisions are moved from root to trunk to branch to leaf. As an employee demonstrates a track record of making good decisions in the trunk category, for example, it will be satisfying to both the employee and the person to whom she reports when those decisions can be moved to the branch category.
The Decision Tree also raises the level of personal accountability. Whenever we work diligently and brilliantly, without having to be told exactly what to do, it gives more ownership to the employee and unburdens the manager or executive of work.
It would be ideal if all leaders would be able to set the goal, “You have six months to teach everyone who reports to you to get along without you.”
Where might the Decision Tree work in your life?