From racism and discrimination in organisations, the new way of working and leadership, to empowering expectant women to achieve their personal birthing aim

How a Paradigm Shift in understanding “Decisions” changes everything

Jorn Verweij
02 Dec 20

Original article by Decision Free Solutions

This report combines five articles, and it’s PDF can be found here.

The five articles are:

  • Introducing the approach of Decision Free Solutions (pdf)
  • Leadership explained (pdf)
  • Your organisation upholds racism and discrimination (pdf)
  • The approach of DFS in action (pdf)
  • 7 Misconceptions about “The New Way of Working” (pdf)

About this report

The instigation for developing the approach of Decision Free Solutions was a procurement methodology: the Best Value Approach. Rather than selecting a solution based on scoring a list of somewhat arbitrary requirements, it sets out to identify the expert-vendor able to achieve the buyer’s aims. Interested in applying its logic to project management, I was able to find neither the underlying first principles nor clear definitions of its fundamental concepts. So I started to define them myself. As a trained physicist I only accepted logic. Following this logic took me much further than I could have ever imagined. The articles in this report bear witness to this.

This report is a collection of five articles which, combined, show the power of a single paradigm shift: to view decision making not as a right, a necessity or “the way of the world,” but something that needs to be avoided, replaced, minimised through the utilisation of expertise. This paradigm shift — clarifying that a decision is a choice made in a situation which is not transparent — is not a clever gimmick, but follows logically from the dictionary definition of what a decision is.

In the first article the approach of Decision Free Solutions (DFS) is introduced. DFS is a generic and systematic approach, providing guidelines for new and existing methods to utilise all available expertise to achieve the goals you believe in. The approach consists out of 4 steps, 5 principles and the role of the Decision Free Leader. It can be applied in any situation where expert help is needed.

The role of the Decision Free Leader is to create the conditions required to fully utilise expertise. The second article — “Leadership explained” — defines the leadership-role, and what traits are required to take on this role successfully. It has four parts: the act of leading, the leadership trait, identifying the right leader, and “sex and leadership” (identifying the root cause of the gender gap).

The third article is titled “Your organisation upholds racism and discrimination.” It explains that hierarchical decision making is not only an anachronism negatively affecting organisational performance, but also a vehicle for a range of social biases to enter the organisation.

The fourth article — The approach of Decision Free Solutions in action — shows how the DFS-principles and guidelines explain the success of a range of pioneering organisations, and can also be used to propose improvements to them. Examples include Haier, Patagonia, K2K and Buurtzorg.

In the fifth and last article — “7 Misconceptions about ‘The New Way of Working’” — it is demonstrated how creating the conditions to optimally utilise expertise within the organisation is the essence of what is known as the new way of working. Knowing the underlying principles, a range of misconceptions which hamper the wider proliferation of the new way of working — e.g., change must be radical, hierarchy must be flattened, and it is all about trust — is exposed.

Jorn Verweij             Hilversum, December 31, 2020

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The alternative to decision making is transparency.

Decisions are conclusions or resolutions reached after consideration (the Oxford dictionary definition of ‘decision’). When something needs to be considered it means it is not transparent. Create transparency and what follows are not decisions but ‘the logical next step’. When something is transparent you don’t have to think. Transparency allows decisions to be replaced by approvals.

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Het vrijmaken van resources is efficiënter dan kosten besparen

In goede tijden is het eenvoudiger om goede marges te maken. In slechte tijden is je enkel verlaten op goede kwaliteit een uitdaging. Maar het simpelweg het mantra “kosten besparen” hanteren leidt tot een lagere kwaliteit en uiteindelijk kleinere marges. Het implementeren van DFS leidt tot een betere benutting van de beschikbare expertise, een verbetering van de kwaliteit, en dus uiteindelijk ook tot lagere kosten. Dit is hoe expert-organisaties de competitie voorblijven, en hun marges op peil houden.

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Leadership performance is easy to predict.

In every leadership-role the aim is to create the conditions to achieve the aims against minimal risk. The needed combination of experience and skills is always different. Simple observations help to identify the right person.

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Everybody can manage risk, only few can minimise it.

In every organisation there are both identified and unidentified risks. Unidentified risks occur e.g. when aims are not clearly understood, when it is unclear whether the right expertise is available, or used appropriately. All of which results in decision making. To manage identified risks is straightforward, to minimise risk you must avoid decision making. Which is what an expert does. But what does it take to become an expert?

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To stay ahead, freeing up resources beats cutting cost.

In good times it may be relatively easy to make profits. In bad times relying on quality alone can be challenging. But the approach of “cutting cost” will affect the quality of your solution, and margins will get affected. Implementing DFS improves the utilisation of available expertise, improving quality and (thus) bringing cost down. This is how expert organisations stay ahead of competition, and retain healthy margins.

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That decisions increase risk is not semantics, it is logic.

That decisions increase risk follows from the dictionary definition and use of logic. Few experience decisions in this way, for various obvious reasons. Many unsubstantiated choices are made based on experience or are educated guesses. We get a lot of decisions right. When the risk does occur, usually much later, we often fail to make the link with the decision. What is more, making decisions often makes us feel good. But the risk is still for real.

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