An original article by Decision Free Solutions
Introducing the approach of Decision Free Solutions
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The approach of Decision Free Solutions (DFS) provides guidelines for new and existing methods to utilise all available expertise to achieve desired outcomes. Its motto: “Resolve frustrations, Utilise expertise, Free up resources, Make change happen”.
Implementing the approach of DFS results in i) Achieving desired outcomes against minimal risk, ii) Minimal use of resources, iii) Resolving frustrations.
The uniqueness of the approach of DFS stems from the clarified definition of a single word: “decision”. That this clarification — as will be shown — has such impact demonstrates the power and importance of language, as it is through language that we see the world. Quite literally so: the members of the Namibian Himba tribe — who speak a language that has no separate word for “blue” — famously take noticeably longer to identify a single blue square among many green ones.
Equally, DFS’ single paradigm shift provides a new powerful perspective. Instead of seeing “decision making” as life’s oxygen — a strength, a token of power, an earned right, an indication of boldness and incisiveness, a skill, an organisational necessity, “the way of running things” — DFS makes a distinction between “decisions which increase risk” and those which don’t. DFS goes on to show that the latter category — as follows from its dictionary definition — aren’t actually decisions.
Establishing that decisions are a special type of choice — a choice which is not fully substantiated to contribute to achieving a desired outcomes — the approach of DFS sets out to utilise expertise to replace “decisions” with “substantiated choices”. This improves performance, frees up resources, and avoids the proliferation of societal biases which are at play when making decisions.
The approach of DFS sets out to overcome two central challenges in optimally utilising expertise:
- The prevalence of all types of decision making preventing the use of expertise (hierarchical, and as found in rules, protocols, checklists and contracts)
- Ensuring the clear communication between experts and non-experts to prevent mechanisms of control and decision making kicking in
To do so it provides guidelines in the form of four steps (DICE), five principles (TONNNO), the role of the Decision Free Leader as well as clear definitions of crucial terminology.
Implementing DFS is an antidote to the fragility, the madness, the wasted resources, the many frustrations (from lack of autonomy and freedom to racism and discrimination) and the risk involved in how most systems and organisations operate. As DFS is a wholly logical approach, it requires no assumptions, no leap of faith, no degree in semantics, no contracts, no special training — and it is entirely for free.
A graphical summary of the approach is provided below.
What does the approach of DFS look like in practice?
The approach of Decision Free Solutions is about identifying and utilising expertise. DFS provides guidelines to either improve existing ways of working, or to come up with new ones, to:
- Achieve a particular desired outcome against minimal risk
- Minimise the use of resources
- Resolve (workplace) frustrations
As DFS is built on a paradigm shift, and the clarification of the definition of the commonly used words “decision” and “expertise,” the interested reader has somewhat of a hill to climb before the view can be enjoyed. It may not be without effort, but it will be worth it. The alternative is to keep on trying to improve results and conditions by doing the same things in slightly different ways, and hope for a different outcome.
DFS doesn’t advocate a drastic reorganisation of the way work is done. It advocates a new way of looking at what stands in the way of using expertise, and how to ensure it is utilised optimally. As DFS can be implemented locally, gradually, reversibly and at a pace the organisation is comfortable with, it is, at least initially, very much like “business as usual”. But seeing new things will result in making small changes. Over time many small changes may make big changes possible.
To optimally utilise expertise DFS sets out:
- To minimise all types of decision making preventing the use of expertise (hierarchical, and as found in rules, procedures, protocols, checklists and contracts)
- To establish clear communication between experts and non-experts (experts in something else) to prevent (the felt need for) mechanisms of control and decision making
A typical sequence of “stages” of how DFS overcomes these two challenges in practice is shown in the figure below. Much of which is bound to be familiar.
What makes the approach of “Decision Free Solutions” unique?
To optimally utilise available expertise is not a new goal. There are a number of existing approaches and management philosophies that have a similar or identical aim. But none of these approaches is built on a paradigm shift and is both logical, generic and systematic.
The approach of Decision Free Solutions (DFS) has several unique elements:
- DFS’ starting premise is making a rigorous distinction between decisions which increase risk, and decisions which don’t — as the latter aren’t technically decisions, it proposes a paradigm shift of how to look at decisions: at something that needs to be avoided, replaced, minimised.
- As decision making not only increases riks but also perpetuates (societal) biases, implementing DFS will not only improve performance but also resolve (workplace) frustrations from lack of autonomy, trust and freedom to racism and discrimination.
- The approach of DFS is both logical, generic and systematic:
- It can be implemented in any field, at any level, at any scale, both gradually and reversibly (from organisations to management to procurement to sales to birthing to whatever)
- Without the need for courses, certificates or contracts or having to buy into multiple programs requiring constant clarification by costly consultants
- Without requiring a restructuring, a reorganisation, the immediate and full departure of current practices or an adherence to pre-cooked policies and procedures
- Without demanding a leap of faith or relying on “experimentation” — if you see the logic you can go and run with it at a pace of your own choosing (and logic can be shared for free)
- DFS can be used to both develop new methods as well as to improve existing ones, offering logic and guidelines to arrive at a method, approach or procedure which is best suited to achieve the desired outcome within a given environment — logic and guidelines which allow any change or transformation to be sustainable
- DFS allows for the identification of both (non-)expert individuals and organisations through the observation of behavioural characteristics, and therefore for the prediction of (non-performance).
- DFS — because of its “decision making paradigm shift,” its ability to identify expertise by observation and to predict (non-)performance — is a unique and powerful tool for research in a vast range of fields (e.g. organisations, management, leadership, “future of work”)
What is the approach of Decision Free Solutions for?
Decision Free Solutions 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
Implementing the approach of DFS results in:
- A greater likelihood that desired outcomes will be achieved,
- Against minimal use of resources,
- While resolving frustrations.
The approach of DFS is generic: It can be applied in any situation where assistance is required to achieve a particular desired outcome. By optimally utilising expertise the approach aims to fully achieve this desired outcome, and to do so against minimal risk.
The approach of DFS is systematic: it is built on logic and the clear definition of terminology which is of central importance. This logic can be used to develop new methods from the ground up (e.g. in organisations, management, procurement, sales, healthcare, birthing), but it can also be used to critically assess (and improve) existing methodologies.
The approach of DFS offers guidelines: it consists out of four steps (DICE), five principles (TONNNO) and the concept of the “Decision Free Leader”.
Resolve frustration, Utilise expertise,
Free up resources, Make change happen
The motto of the approach of Decision Free Solutions is: Resolve frustration, Utilise expertise, Free up resources, Make change happen:
- By creating the conditions to optimally utilising expertise a wide range of frustrations can be resolved. Not only the frustration of not achieving the desired outcome — or achieving it using many more resources than required — but also the frustrations felt by those whose expertise is not (fully) utilised. These frustrations range from lack of autonomy, responsibility, freedom, trust and fun, to the frustrations of discrimination and racism.
- Through the utilisation of expertise desired outcomes can be achieved more efficiently, and against minimal risk — and thus minimal use of resources.
- The combination of non-ambiguous desired outcomes and clear communication between experts and non-experts does away with the need for a costly system of control (“overhead”). This system of control is a logical reflex to minimise risks when desired outcomes are not transparent and expertise is not identified and utilised. In absence of this need for control significant amounts of resources can be freed up.
- Through the combination of minimising the need for resources to achieve a particular desired outcome and freeing up resources by reducing overhead, DFS contributes to removing a critical bottleneck in making change happen.
The starting premise of the approach of Decision Free Solutions is that a distinction must be made between decisions which increase risk, and decisions which don’t. The former must be avoided through the utilisation of expertise (replacing them with substantiated choices), the latter aren’t technically decisions — hence the name “Decision Free Solutions”
Implementing DFS in any field (e.g. birthing), or any system (e.g. organisations), results in a shift away from decision making, risk and all of its related consequences, and towards improved performance in actually achieving desired outcomes, and the resolution of a range of frustrations (see Figure below).
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