Make Decisions by Concensus

Princeipe 13: Decide Slowly, Implement Fast | Principles of Lean


“Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.” – The Toyota Way

All too often, we implement solutions too quickly. And then spend a more extended period, having to fix everything that wasn’t right.

Today, we are all under pressure to get a quick-fix in place or launch a new piece of software by a specific date. We have to force things a little, and we know that if we talk to all the departments and individuals impacted, we won’t hit the deadline. While many of us want to be more comprehensive, we have to keep engagement with the broader stakeholder groups limited. Otherwise, we will look bad!

And then when we launch, but the solution is not quite right. 

By not engaging fulling with all the departments and individuals in the first instance, we end up with something that is not quite right. It has flaws; other teams don’t even use the solution, and some people refuse to change.

The benefits of what we have been working on don’t exist. The adoption is weak, and the solution that we designed is just not right.

In the end, we have to engage with the broader group to find out why. And then we have to undo the errors and fix the defects. We waste time, our capabilities and our resources. 

The real effect is that fixing the issues takes longer than doing it right the first time. So while we may have saved upfront, the overall costs are higher than if we had done it right the first time.

The principles from The Toyota Way states:

“Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.”

To follow this, we must first evaluate all the solutions available, and then once a decision has been made, implement quickly.

A real consensus is hard to achieve for sure, and we can spend too long analysing and looking for the perfect solution that does not quite exist. The most important goal is to that provide the most significant benefit to the process overall while minimising the negative impacts. If we understand the adverse effects on our people and other areas of the business, then we can manage them appropriately.

Nothing will be perfect, but we should try to get (almost) everyone on board with the solution that (almost) everyone believes is the right one. And then don’t hang about – implement quickly to get the rewards and the benefits.


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Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell is a highly accomplished professional with 15 years of experience in building lean management programs for corporate companies. With his expertise in strategy execution, he has established himself as a trusted advisor for numerous organisations seeking to improve their operational efficiency.

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