The Decision Maker

Hey @staff,

I read The Decision Maker by Dennis Bakke over the weekend. It’s a business fiction story about a traditional company, which was taken over by 2 fresh executives. One of them adopted the decision maker principles, to distribute the decision making process across the company, to the point where as an executive, all he was deciding was who should be the decision maker. This lead to employees feeling more responsible, involved in the company, more productivity, better sales, etc.

The book was a page turner – pretty light and engaging. I’m generally slow at reading, but I finished it in under a day. Really liked how they handled some pretty serious situations, where the company could have gone under, by giving away decision making authority to employees, instead of calling the shots themselves at the executive level.

The basic understanding from decision maker perspective is that people are:

  • Unique
  • Creative Thinkers
  • Capable of Learning
  • Up for a Challenge
  • Fallible (can fail)

In this methodology, (as opposed to other systems) the hierarchy stays the same, with the executives, and leaders (managers); but at each level, they don’t make the decision themselves. Their responsibility at their level is to find the decision maker. So, at executive level, it’s about finding the leader to assign a decision maker, and at leader level, it’s about assigning the decision maker in their team.

The way a decision maker should be chosen is:

  • Proximity: Closest to the issue
  • Perspective
  • Experience
  • History (of previous decisions)

The decision maker, in this methodology has a very important responsibility, which is to follow the advisory process. As a decision maker, you have to get advice from people who have:

  • Experience
  • Position (Ask a leader / boss, a peer, people below, outsiders)
  • Responsibility
  • Ownership

The advisory process is where the true value comes from. By having been asked for opinions to make decisions, people get more engaged with the problems, and it leads to better decisions.

This methodology isn’t too far from my original understanding – but provides an important structure with the advisory process. This process is what builds the trust level which was allocated to decision makers.

Here’s a summary of the learnings:

There’re also some videos of Dennis Bakke talking about the process here:

Highly recommend that every one read this book to understand how this methodology works, and call me out on distributing the decision making process :slight_smile:. I think this methodology is simple, natural (the best person to make the call is the person most affected by the decision), not too far-fetched as Holacracy seems to be. Might work better for us.



I’ve seen the most effective people follow this methodology and so this really rings true. Can’t wait to read this (in the midst of GTD currently).

1 Like

I just completed it yesterday. It’s an awesome read.

Here are some points that stood out.

  • Advisory process is more important than making the right decision.
  • The decision maker should just have the four qualities mentioned above. Once that is taken care of, he would be gathering opinion from others, weighing them against each other and make a decision which feels right to him.
  • You only get better at decision making if you are given a chance to make more and more decisions.

I was especially amazed by how they gave away important decisions to other people because they believed

  1. Those people were more close to the issue.
  2. Confirmed with all the right facts, they would make the same decision.

Just finished it, a really good book overall. Very easy to read.

Who decides the decision maker. This is something worth paying attention to and should be explicit. Reflects on the leadership.

The advice process. Without this decision making doesn’t stand up to the rigors of business life. Critical to get advice from a wide variety of levels within the organization, including those you report to.

Hiring and letting go. Some of the most important decisions belong to this category. All the factors such as proximity, perspective, etc can be seen to play a big role in choosing a decision maker here.