The DARI-model and the Jester will fix it!
We attend meetings like mad, and our mailboxes are filling up. We have as many as dozens of interactions with our colleagues every day … And yet, in most of the organizations I visit, little or even nothing tangible is happening at the white-collar levels.
With all the tech tools, like Zoom Meetings and WhatsApp circles, there could ostensibly no longer not be any good reason not to work collaboratively. However, all sorts of things happen at international headquarters besides beneficial collaboration.
Decisions are being postponed endlessly, and when they are made, they are seldom the better ones.
In my own experience, many firms are struggling with this issue, and most are tackling it all together in the wrong way.
When conceiving a more modern governance framework, far too much attention is paid to hierarchical relationships and insufficient attention to what really matters, explicitly improving the organization’s genuine, well-designed collaborative relationships.
We may distinguish three different types of interactions:
1) Decision-making moments
2) Conceiving creative solutions and their coordination.
3) Information sharing
I. Decision-making moments:
Both on crucial matters such as mergers, significant investments, and the like, and in daily management, it is of the utmost importance to ask the following questions to make good decisions: Who is responsible? Who is accountable? Who should be consulted?
Although it can be convenient, valuable, and necessary to gather several people around the table, it is not the case that they all have to be “decision-makers.” All too often, the prevailing corporate culture is one where consensus is sought not to offend anyone, resulting in useless and watered-down decisions that lead nowhere.
At EffCo, in our management control improvement projects, we use the DARI system in which four different roles are clearly distinguished in the decision process:
They are the only ones with “voting rights” in the group. Opposite to the often employed RACI system where too much ambiguity prevails, it is crystal clear here! They decide, and if they cannot agree, escalation is in order.
They are vital for the quality of the decision-making process because their experience and input can shape the decision. Still, they do not have the right to vote.
They are the ones who carry out preliminary analyses, map out the field, identify pitfalls, compare options, and present alternatives. For important decisions, they are preferably external because of their objectivity and the lack of a political agenda. This group doesn’t need to participate in the decisive moment.
It is essential to involve these players, not because of their expertise in the matter, but because they are the ones who will have to implement the decision. They can indicate obstacles and pitfalls and show resistance to change in the area concerned.
*** At EffCo, we also have a fifth role, that of the court jester:
The court jester is an official joker in the court of a monarch. The jester mocked all kinds of daily affairs, such as the church, citizens, and the nobility. The court jester was one of the few people who was not punished for his jokes about the nobility. This gave him a strange position; he was at the bottom of the social ladder, but he could penetrate the highest circles by influencing the nobility and the monarch. Often, jesters were also appointed as advisers and used by the monarch to control other nobles with their talk. Other courtiers often disliked the court jester because he made fun of them. In 1623, for example, the Duke of Buckingham threatened a court jester with death. The jester said: ‘Many a duke has been hanged for insolence, but never a jester for his talk.’
II. Coming up with creative solutions and coordinating them:
In addition to weak leadership, the weakest link is coming up with and drawing out solid, creative, and innovative solutions in many companies.
Because of the pervasive “burocrazy” and micromanaging of top managers, things are unnecessarily delayed, employees become demotivated, and top management is far too concerned with the nitty-gritty.
True empowerment is the key to success here. The concept of empowerment has been eroded to meaninglessness recently. Genuinely empowering employees means not dropping them unarmed into the desert and leaving them there, but requires the right chalk lines on the playing field, a psychologically safe environment, the right resources, the proper leadership behavior, and active support from the top.
III. Sharing of information
The crucial question here is: Couldn’t this meeting have been an email? During a meeting-hygiene exercise, asking the following questions is vital:
– What is the purpose of this meeting?
– What is my role?
– Does this meeting need to last 60 minutes?
– Are all the invited people needed?
– Do we need to project so many slides?