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Who Has The Decision? Part 1

What do to when there are too many people making decisions on the project

Making DecisionsA number of years ago, I was working with a client to provide them guidance on a complex project. The “core team” was large and nearly everyone on the project team felt they needed to be involved in making decisions. I am not talking about providing input or sharing their ideas/thoughts, but rather everyone had to be in the room to make a decision. If someone couldn’t attend a decision making meeting, it had to be rescheduled. The project already had a few bad decisions made and was delayed due to this situation. Obviously it could not go on without the project entirely failing.

Although a process and procedures had been documented regarding decision making, it seemed that no one was following it. In fact, the sponsor encouraged all team members to be involved in decisions being made and seemed to encourage canceling decision making meetings when not everyone was able to attend.

I couldn’t let this go on too long, but I was sensitive to the fact that this was a very complex project for the organization. Any push back needed to keep in mind that many of the team members would only stay engaged if they felt they were involved in every decision. There were many reasons for this. Not the least of which was that if this project was successful – everyone wanted to say they had a hand in that success. But being involved in every decision was not the only way to enable for team members to feel as if they are part of the success of the initiative.

My Meeting with the Sponsor

I met with the sponsor to outline my concerns. I knew simply telling him this was an issue was not sufficient, he needed to understand it from a bottom line impact and needed to hear a potential solution.

I shared that while I thought it was great that so many people wanted to be involved in every decision, I was concerned about the impact on the timeline of the initiative. We were moving very slowly to address issues and make decisions due to schedules. Additionally, in a couple of instances we missed an opportunity because we couldn’t get a decision made fast enough.

I proposed that we use the RAPID® Model (RAPID® is a registered trademark of Bain & Company, Inc.) for the project. This had been successful on other projects in which I was involved and clearly defined roles on the team for decision making.

Here is what I proposed to the sponsor regarding who on the team should be involved and in what capacity:



(Fictious names used)


  • Provide data and analysis to make decision to “decider” role.
  • Incorporate information from “input” role.
  • Make a proposal for decision (solution.)

Annie (Project Manager)
(I would provide support)


  • Ensure agreement is available; share/work to resolve concerns that arise.

Sammy, Jack, Allison, Margaret (team members)


  • Be accountable to perform/implement the decision

Varied – will depend on situation – but no more than 2 – 3 team members.


  • Provide facts, data, information to the “recommend” role

Varied – Subject Matter Experts (no more than 3) depending on situation


  • Make the decision
  • Point of contact/accountability for decision

Andrew (Project Sponsor)

The project sponsor approved of this suggestion and the use of RAPID®. Our next step was to share our proposal with the entire team and get their buy-in.

In part 2 we will share our proposal to the team and part 3 will share our first formal problem solving session following the new procedures.