One of the biggest levers for improving decision making is being able to stop the decision swirl and identify, “OK, it’s time to make a proposal.”
When our clients ask for our help with decision making, it’s often because they are getting stuck trying to find the “right” thing to do.
It’s natural to want to get it right in decision making, but we find the most effective and high-performing teams use decision making not to “get it right”, but to move work forward, learn from taking action, and adjust the plan accordingly.
There is rarely a perfect course of action - so we at August love to interrupt this “decision rumination” by encouraging the person who owns the decision to make a proposal.
The 4 Steps to Making a Proposal
Making a proposal is a simple practice. You can use this yourself to share when you’re sensing a need and have an idea for a solution. It’s also a great practice for managers to use to empower their teams to name and solve problems.
At August, we call this sensing a tension. Tensions are opportunities for productive change, if we can translate them into proposals for improving our team or organization.
Here are the steps to take when making a proposal:
- Share Context: There are a few ways to share context - set the stage with context and evidence, name the specific tension you are trying to resolve, and/or share an example of how this tension showed up for you.
- Convey Impact: Tell everyone why this is worth their time and attention and share why this is important to the purpose and priorities of your team.
- Offer a start: Focus on taking one step forward instead of seeking perfection. Ask yourself:
- What needs to start/stop happening?
- Can the action happen quickly?Does it help relieve tension?
- Will it help you learn what works and what doesn't?
- Give an idea of how to assess: Be able to answer what you think will be the signs of success or failure and when will you revisit and evaluate this decision.
Proposals will streamline your decision-making process.
I recently witnessed the benefits of making a proposal working with a Senior Leadership Team at a civic sector client organization.
The team was grappling with decisions that spanned hybrid work policies, hiring decisions, and budgeting.
Instead of trying to decide on all of those things at the same time, we asked the group to focus on one tension and make a proposal.
One person leaned in to make a proposal and said, “I propose we talk about closing our in person office at the end of April.”
Knowing this proposal would have a big impact on the organization, we worked together to add some depth to the proposal including context, impact, a starting point, and how to assess the impact of the decision.
Adding these few details made it easier to translate the decision into an actual decision.
In the end, they made an actual decision to close their in person office in that moment - rather than opting to talk about it at a later date.
It was really magical to witness this team unlock the power of the “make a proposal” practice.
Making a proposal helped this team to move forward with clarity and shift from talking to action. We hope you can try making a proposal. Even if it is emergent or half baked, proposals move us forward!