To stay ahead, freeing up resources beats cutting cost.
First, for clarity, the difference between “freeing up resources” and “cutting cost”. Cutting cost is typically done without an analysis of why these costs were there in the first place. Costs can be cut by letting go of people, reducing service, and or provide lower quality solutions. Cutting cost almost always have adverse consequences: customer complaints, higher failure-rate, lower output and margins.
Freeing up resources, instead, is about achieving the same performances, but in a more efficient way. By optimally utilising available expertise improved efficiency will free up resources, but also overhead can be reduced. Freeing up resources does not reduce the quality of solutions, and may actually increase margins.
Every organisation is interested in “optimally” using resources. In good times the necessity may not be obvious, but in more challenging times the urgency is suddenly there. Are we using resources in the best way possible? Where we can get more efficient? How to bring about this change? What to do?
The approach of Decision Free Solutions has “Making expertise matter” as a tagline. Its motto is “Resolve frustration. Utilise expertise. Free up Resources. Make change happen.” Which all sounds swell. But it also invites some critical questions.
Questions such as: Aren’t we already utilising expertise? What exactly is it, and how do you recognise it? If you have it, how do you best utilise it? How does it free up resources (will it even be substantial)? And if “implementing DFS” is something we would like to try, how big an operation will it be (and will it even work for us)?
Most of these questions have been answered in the document “The approach of Decision Free Solutions”, and they will also be addressed below.
Aren’t we already utilising expertise?
If most of the following applies to your situation/organisation, then, yes, you are already making great use of available expertise:
- A relatively high employee retention rate/low rate of sickness absence (for type of industry)
- Competing both on quality and price
- Throughout the organisation employees feel accountable for overall performance
- Relatively few meetings, with relatively few people, with clear agendas
- Clearly defined aims at every level (for each organisational unit, all the way to the mission)
- Organisational hierarchy is relatively flat and, in any case, not strictly enforced
- It is easy to both identify and access the person carrying responsibility
- Organisation does not rely on/use financial incentives to “motivate” personnel
- No-blame culture (collective responsibility)
This list can be easily extended. For more information have a look at “How to predict future behaviour of individuals as well as organisations.”
What is expertise, and how do you recognise it?
There is an important distinction to be made between a specialist and an expert. A specialist knows a lot amount a particular subject and is the go-to-person in a particular well-defined topic. An expert is someone who can help you to achieve your desired outcome, and do so against minimal risk. An expert has an “area” of expertise.
To become a specialist in something you must be very knowledgeable in this something. For a specialist everything is about experience, and details. Specialists thrive in situations which are stable and predictable, and in which, preferably, they can work by themselves.
To become an expert you must be perceptible, to observe changes and see what impact they have on an outcome. For an expert everything is about creating transparency, and experience can be a big plus. Experts thrive also in situations which are dynamic and in which communication is key (and where experience may count for less).
Experts have a high degree of perceptiveness. It is a prerequisite to be able to minimise risks in achieving an aim for others. Someone’s level of perceptiveness is an ability, a trait. Something that shines through in whatever a person does. Perceptiveness is not something that can be measured. But a person’s degree of perceptiveness — as expressed in behavioural characteristics — is relatively easy to observe. And this is true for organisations as well. The list in the previous section are all things which are easy to observe or determine.
How do you utilise expertise?
To utilise expertise first and foremost the “desired outcome” must be non-ambiguous and understood the same by all involved. Then two challenges need to be overcome: the challenge of establishing transparent communication between experts and non-experts (e.g. specialists, or experts in something else), and the challenges posed by hierarchical decision making (where non-experts can make decisions without having to substantiate them, and which often can’t be challenged).
The approach of Decision Free Solutions uses the four steps of DICE, the five principles of TONNNO, and the role of the so-called Decision Free Leader to overcome these challenges.
The four steps of DICE provide a structured approach from Definition (of the aim and the environment within which this aim is to be achieved), to Identification (of the expert), to Clarification (of a plan to achieve the aim) and finally to Execution (executing the clarified plan). For more on DICE read “The four steps of DICE that will change the world.”
The principles of TONNNO are to be applied all of the time to ensure clear communication (to avoid the knee-jerk reactions of control and decision making by the non-expert). They are Transparency, Objectivity, No details, No requirements, and No relationship. For more on TONNNO read “The five principles of TONNNO which will avoid decision making.”
For the implementation of DICE and TONNNO to be successful, a culture must be in place where choices are substantiated, and where choices which are not (fully) substantiated are identified as risks. Such a culture requires someone in a leadership-role (be it a project leader, a team leader, a procurement officer, a manager, etc.) with a high level of perceptiveness. This role is to be taken up by the Decision Free Leader. To identify the person who is most likely to take on this role successfully, see “Leadership explained”.
How does implementing DFS free up resources?
In today’s dynamic and complex marketplace, organisations face more and more risks in achieving their aims. To deal with this uncertainty many organisations employ their management structure to steer, direct and control their employees. They do this to try to be on top of things, to make sure all is all right and to react quickly if it is not.
Many resources are thus spent, not on minimising risk, but on blunting the impact of unidentified risks occurring. But steering and controlling employees restricts the use of the employees’ expertise only further. And so a vicious circle is entered.
The approach of DFS proposes a way out of this circle. If transparency is created (in communication, in having non-ambiguous aims, in who will achieve them and how) resources will be used more efficiently. But the real freeing up of resources is a result of being able to let go of a structure of directing and control.
Achieving your aims more efficiently frees up resources. No longer needing an extensive apparatus of control and directing will free up still more resources.
Can DFS be implemented in my organisation?
The approach of DFS is the systematic and generic answer to minimise the risk a particular desired outcome will not be achieved. DFS provides guidelines as to how to implement it in any field, in any environment, achieving any desired outcome.
This means that DFS can be introduced and implemented within a team, a project or a department. Unlike for example the management approach known as Holacracy, DFS does not require organisations to change their structure, or to go full-in. DFS can be introduced locally, gradually and also reversibly.
To get a better understanding of whether implementing DFS is likely to be successful in your organisation, have a look at the general introduction of “The approach of Decision Free Solutions”.
If you have read enough already, and you simply want to know whether DFS is for you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to all explanations Message me about this explanation
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