How to Achieve Oscar-winning Business Decisions
cheryl wilson 270003VHSH firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  transactional-decision-ma... decision-management business-rules front-line-decisions decision-automation business-rule-management
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I was reminded recently of a piece of truth from a past McKinsey Quarterly interview with Brad Bird, the Oscar-winning director from Pixar – director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille – where he said:
“Not all shots are created equal. Certain shots need to be perfect, others need to be very good, and there are some that only need to be good enough to not break the spell.”
He was talking about film shots, but the same applies to business decisions. Thomas Davenport of Harvard Business Review said pretty much the same thing when discussing a framework for improving business decisions back in 2009.
“Managers should begin by listing the decisions that must be made and deciding which are most important—for example, ‘the top 10 decisions required to execute our strategy’ or ‘the top 10 decisions that have to go well if we are to meet our financial goals.’ Some decisions will be rare and highly strategic (‘What acquisitions will allow us to gain the necessary market share?’) while others will be frequent and on the front lines (‘How should we decide how much to pay on claims?’). Without some prioritization, all decisions will be treated as equal—which probably means that the important ones won’t be analyzed with sufficient care.”
Since decision management systems principally focus on the automation and improvement of those frequently occurring, front-line, transactional and operational decisions, a good place to start is with those decisions that need to be perfect to meet critical objectives; meaning, which ones need to be quickly, precisely and consistently delivered across all relevant channels, day in and day out, to grow or protect your business.
For example, in the case of ASE, a 100% member-owned unemployment insurance fund in Denmark, they were able to quickly deliver a partial but prioritized solution within three months against one of their strategic objectives – to keep costs down while delivering excellent customer service – by focusing on the time required to calculate entitlements. Putting business decisions in a business context like this made it easier to identify and prioritize the candidate decisions for automation or optimization. And it’s often the quickest, clearest path to ROI.
In sum, many frequently occurring decisions that affect customer experience are like those film shots that need to be perfect in order to differentiate from competitors, especially when all other things are pretty much equal. If you get those “shots” right, time and time again, customers will nominate you through an academy of word-of-mouth. It may not be a gold statue at the end of the year, but it’s money in the bank.
And as Davenport mentioned in his HRB article above, better processes don’t necessarily guarantee better decisions. They can help, but you still need to look at your decisions as separate corporate assets from your processes to have Oscar-worthy front-line decision making.