Having Trouble Delegating? Try The Decision Tree
A Living Organization
- Leaf Decisions. Make the decision. Act on it. Do not report the action you took. If you pluck a leaf from a tree, what happens to the tree? Nothing. It remains strong. If something goes awry with a leaf decision, it will not damage the organization.
- Branch Decisions. Make the decision. Act on it. Report the action you took daily, weekly, or monthly. Again, if a tree loses a branch, it does not impact overall growth or health. The individual can report on the action in case you need to provide some course-correction.
- Trunk Decisions. Make the decision. Report your decision before you take action. If the trunk is damaged, the tree can survive. But it will take time and nurturing to restore it to its former health. Trunk decisions, then, have a greater impact on your organization. While direct-reports can make these decisions, they need to clear it with you or your executive team before acting.
- Root Decisions. Discuss the options before the decision is made. Kill the roots, kill the tree. Root decisions are made by leadership. You gather input from trusted sources, but you make the call. These high-level decisions should never be delegated.
Scott's Decision Tree provides an easily-grasped metaphor for organizational decision-making. Additionally, it:
- Fosters accountability by enabling individuals to identify into which category different decisions and actions fall. They know when they have the "authority to make decisions and take action."
- Encourages employees to develop key strengths, including leadership skills.
- Frees you and your executive team to focus on the root decisions and activities - the responsibilities that only you can tackle.
Most empowering, though, is that it provides a pathway for employee growth. If an individual consistently makes great decisions at a trunk level, for example, then those decisions move to the branch category. That is, this person doesn't have to stop, clear his decision, and then act. Instead, he can make the decision, act, and then report. The goal is to move as many decisions to the leaf category as possible, giving him much greater ownership.