Chris, the leader of the planning committee for the next District Managers Meeting, sent an email to the company’s leadership team describing two possible venues. Emails flew around as people weighed in.  Someone wrote that it looked like the decision was in favor of the first venue. More emails then flew around expressing concern about its distance from the airport. Chris then proposed a third venue. There was one response saying, “Looking forward to hearing what you find out.” And interestingly, the flood of emails ceased.

Chris doesn’t realize it, but this is just the calm before the storm. It’s not clear which decisions are to be made by the planning committee and which by the leadership team. Busy leaders will soon get annoyed if they feel their time is being wasted, and his team will get annoyed if Chris doesn’t give them an opportunity to weigh in.

Life will be easier for everyone if they use the CRISP Decision-Making model.

I was introduced to this easy five-step process by Steve Piersanti, President of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, who has been using this model successfully for many years. When I asked for permission to share it in my blog, Steve replied, “Berrett-Koehler is very open source and would be happy if everyone copied every good thing we are doing.” They certainly are doing good work, and I am pleased to be able to share their model. I took the liberty of added the acronym CRISP in order to make it easier to remember.

Use this model to make crisp decisions when you have a question that requires involvement of others, when you are proposing a change, leading a project or when you want to make something new happen.

C  R  I  S  P

C = Clarity 

Step 1  Clearly describe the decision required.

    • Anyone affected by the decision should have an opportunity to have input into the wording of the decision.
    • If there is uncertainty or disagreement about how to describe the decision, the leader of the area affected by the decision will describe it.
R = Responsibility  

Step 2  – Determine who will be responsible to “steward” the decision through the CRISP decision-making process.

    • Usually the decision steward should be the person who is leading the project or has proposed the decision.
    • If there is uncertainty about who it should be, the leader of the area affected by the decision will appoint the steward.

I = Involvement

Step 3  – Determine who should be involved in the decision.

    • The decision steward should take the lead in deciding who to involve in the decision, based on the guidelines of involving those who:
      • Are substantially affected by the decision.
      • Have a desire to be involved.
      • Represent the “whole system” relating to the particular issue.
    • The decision steward will often need to ask individuals or groups if they want to be involved.  Sometimes, for practical reasons, representatives of a group rather than the whole group will be involved.
    • Any staff members can involve themselves or others in a decision by requesting that they be involved.
S = Specify the level

Step 4 – Specify their level of involvement in the decision.

    • For each person or group involved in the decision, the decision steward will propose their level of involvement.
    • The leader of the area affected by the decision will make the final determination about the levels of involvement.
    • The decision steward ensures that everyone knows their level of involvement. (As a practical matter, most decisions will be at the Inform or Consult level of involvement).

The 4 levels of involvement are:

Inform   You are kept informed in a timely way regarding what is going on but not asked to give input into the decision.

Consult    You are consulted before the decision is made to get your input, so that you feel that you’ve been heard even if the decision goes against your advice.

Consent You see sufficient reasonableness and thoughtfulness in the decision to “live with it,” even though they might decide differently if they were making the decision alone.

Consensus  Consensus has been reached when every person involved at this level can say: “I believe that this is the best decision we can arrive at for the organization at this time and I will support its implementation.”

P = Publicize

Step 5 – Publicize the decision.

    • The decision steward facilitates the decision-making process.
    • Once a decision has been made, the decision steward will communicate the decision in a timely manner to all who have been involved.
    • The leader of the area affected by the decision is responsible for making sure that the decision steward has followed the five steps.

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