Richard Hart

Head of Something @ Somewhere
Kent, UK

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Decision Making Trains

Decision-making in an organisation is like a train passing through stations on its way to a final destination. Picking up passengers along the way who want to be part of the process of reaching a final decision.

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 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 we missed our chance to get on completely. Causing us to ask ourselves how we ever 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. Then, we 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 throw our hands up and wonder why we even bother. We start to question ourselves. How did we miss the train? Why they didn’t wait for us? or who was even driving it?

There will always be decisions that are 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 get on board and look for interesting 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 will be 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.