One of the problems that really interests me lately is decision-making. Specifically, how teams can make decisions without wasting a ton of time going back and forth about what they’re going to do, and how they can prevent time-thieves from re-opening decisions they weren’t happy with.
The simple matrix described in This Matrix Helps Growing Teams Make Great Decisions at First Round Review seems like a fantastic alternative to endless circular discussions. Granted, I’d also prefer a swift kick in the shins so that’s a low bar, but the matrix is probably more effective :)
If you just want to see the matrix, search for this paragraph
It starts with a basic chart, with the two (or more) options you’re deciding between at the top. Down the left-hand column, you have benefits, costs, and — uniquely — mitigations.
That’s the core of the idea, but seriously, go read the article, especially the examples. They do a great job of showing how that matrix can help with extremely contentious decisions like whether or not to have descriptive titles for developers or just have everyone have the same title, or whether to refactor a large application. Those are the exact kind of things that waste enormous amounts of time and end with everyone unhappy if they’re handled poorly.
Another handy thing about a matrix like that is it really lends itself to documentation, whether that’s a page on your internal wiki or just a text document in a shared drive. With documentation like that, you can point a wannabe time-thief to it and go on with your day, and it’s super helpful for new employees to be able to see the reasons decisions were made. If you’re extremely motivated, you could even collect a bunch of those matrixes from past decisions and do a retro on your team’s decision-making skills.