Decision Making Trains

Decision making in an organisation is like a train passing through stations. Picking up passengers along the way who all want to be part of the journey towards a destination.

But some trains pass through our station without ever stopping. We patiently wait to get on so we can have our say, but it flashes by, leaving us a bit dazed, confused, frustrated, and wondering why it didn’t stop for us. Sometimes we weren’t even at the station when it passed by. We wait for it to arrive, only to realise that we missed it completely. Leaving us to ask ourselves how we ended up in this situation.

We then make the mistake of expecting the train to come back and pick us up. Depending on your seniority, the size of the decision, and the size of the organisation, that might be possible. But many of us may have to scramble to catch up to it. Hoping that once onboard, we can influence a train already in motion. Only to find we have no say over where it’s going.

In larger organisations, many decisions will be made without our input. Being uninvolved makes us feel deflated. We wonder how we missed the train, why they didn’t wait for us, or who was even driving it. We throw our hands up and wonder why we even bother.

There will always be a set of decision-making out of our control. If someone a lot more senior wants something and we don’t have the political capital to influence the output, it may be better to simply get on board and look for opportunities along the way.

There will be decisions that need questioning, and we should strive to challenge those we feel strongly about. Especially if they cross our own moral or ethical values.

Some trains are fast, some trains are slow, some will stop for us, some won’t stop at all, and many trains we’ll never see or even know about. Then there will be trains that are our responsibility to drive.

We can’t be on every train, so we should be sure to pick the ones worthy of our time and effort.