G'day: decision process framework
A framework for selecting your team's product direction and making data-driven decisions
Give, Decide, Accept, Yo-wup!
When designing your team's decision process please keep in mind that the overarching goal is to choose a concept with high potential to become an impactful, innovative, real product that is feasible within the resources of 2.s009.
It is important that the agreed-upon decision process is perceived as fair and unbiased. Teams may elect to have another party (such as a mentor or student from another team) facilitate/mediate the process. If you choose to do this, it is really important that your mediator is prepared in advance and understands your decision process.
As you think about your decision-making process, please keep the G'DAY! framework in mind.
- it is important to neutrally and openly "give" the state of knowledge for each concept (positives, concerns, and key unknowns to resolve).
- the giving process should be driven by information, not by ownership, prior investment, or opinion.
FNAP! (Facts, Not Assertions Please!). Yes, FNAP! When preparing descriptions of concepts, carefully ask yourself if you are stating facts that have been learned and validated through research or experiments, or if you are just stating what you believe to be a fact! Also, be careful to not present an assertion by a single person outside of the team as fact!
- it is critical that all of the team members really understand each of the concepts! This is part of the motivation for having opposite sections present the overview of concepts (as described in the team meeting notes). Design dispute mediation guidelines might also be helpful for this part of the discussion. A visualization for each concept along with its core value proposition should be prominently and persistently displayed in the meeting room (typically with posters). It should be clear to what extent actual potential users of the product have interacted with the team.
- everyone should have a voice. Points should be documented in a visible display to help avoid excessive repetition of the same information and to reassure team members that points have not been forgotten. A person should be able to simply refer to the comments and say "I second comment/information point #5".
- "test the water" periodically to see if the team is ready to make decisions. All the points need to be made, but avoid extending discussion unnecessarily. Any team member should feel free to propose that that it is time to make a decision. If the team reaches a point where a concept no longer needs to be considered, the group may decide to make that decision and then move on with the rest of the “giving”.
- once all information has been given, have a plan for evaluation and making a decision. The plan needs to be prepared and agreed upon before the meeting. This plan should include a construct for objectively comparing options based upon the information that has been given. The most commonly used construct is a Pugh Chart or variation thereof. It is important that the construct is circulated in advance, and that the team agrees with and believes in the process.
- when setting the decision criteria, think about whether they will discriminate for the potential to become an impactful, innovative, real product that is feasible. Criteria should be agreed upon in advance of the meeting.
- have a clearly defined end state/criterion that defines when the decision has been made, but be aware that the process is not always linear. In trying to make a decision, you may find that in some situations more information needs to be given.
- be realistic, but not overly fearful of taking risks. There are significant unknowns for all of the concepts. Products should be innovative and challenging, applying technologies in new ways, but invention of fundamental new technologies is very high risk on a short timeline.
- if the agreed upon plan or decision criteria do not seem to be sufficient it may be necessary to discuss and adjust accordingly. The team needs to believe in the process.
- there needs to be consensus that a decision has been made, but that does not mean that this decision itself needs to be made unanimously (which is very unlikely). But, you should unanimously agree that the decision has been made and the team is moving on!
- it is important that all team members feels that, even if the selected concept is not their first choice, that they will be comfortable working on the chosen product direction.
- once the decision has been made, the yo-wup! is a physical ritual and cathartic release that decisively moves the team forward to focus on designing the best product that it can. Instructions for a yo-wup! are linked in the lab notes. All teams must perform a yo-wup! You want to wholeheartedly embrace the chosen challenge and in doing so feel the excitement and satisfaction of pursing excellence!
- with a good process, at the end you will all have had a good day!