How to define decision rights

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We recommend a simple yet comprehensive approach for defining decision rights. We call it DARE, which stands for deciders, advisers, recommenders, and executors:

Deciders are the only ones with a vote (unlike the RACI model, which helps determine who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed). If the deciders get stuck, they should jointly agree on how to escalate the decision or figure out a way to move the process along, even if it means agreeing to “disagree and commit.”

Advisers have input and help shape the decision. They have an outsize voice in setting the context of the decision and have a big stake in its outcome—for example, it may affect their profit-and-loss statements—but they don’t get a vote.

Recommenders conduct the analyses, explore the alternatives, illuminate the pros and cons, and ultimately recommend a course of action to advisers and deciders. They see the day-to-day implications of the decision but also have no vote. Best-in-class recommenders offer multiple options and sometimes invite others to suggest more if doing so may lead to better outcomes. A common mistake of recommenders, though, is coming in with only one recommendation (often the status quo) and trying to convince everyone it’s the best path forward. In general, the more recommenders, the better the process—but not in the decision meeting itself.

Executers don’t give input but are deeply involved in implementing the decision. For speed, clarity, and alignment, executers need to be in the room when the decision is made so they can ask clarifying questions and spot flaws that might hinder implementation. Notably, the number of executers doesn’t necessarily depend on the importance of the decision. An M&A decision, for example, might have just two executors: the CFO and a business-unit head.

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