Advice Process is often used in companies with a flat hierarchy organization. Advice Process is defined as a decision-making process made to facilitate actions. The methodology is based on 4 main steps: defining the problem pointer, sourcing advice from experts and consulting people impacted, suggesting solutions based on data and finally making the decision and communicating about it.
When a decision needs to be made, the first step is to identify whom the decision belongs to. Preferably the person who identified the need for a decision in the first place since they are per definition aware of the issue. Anyone in the company can take the ownership in the advice process.
Once the decision-maker has been identified, the offer is made. The decision-maker will suggest their solution to the problem. Offering a concrete suggestion beforehand defines the conversation focus.
The decision-maker must consult people who are involved in the problem and people with experience in that field. They will therefore take the advice into account, evaluate their impact and decide either to apply it or not. When the decision-maker decides that there is enough data, the decision can be made and communicated.
This methodology is one of the ways to avoid conflict in corporations. As the decision-making process can be difficult sometimes, it is important to have as much information as needed. But this methodology can also create noise in the decision process and extend the problem-solving period. Marion Letellier, Agile Coach at Thales Digital Factory shares with us her thoughts about this process and why it doesn’t always work.
1. What is the latest project you applied the Advice Process to?
In addition to my role as a coach, I help and facilitate staffing within the organization. As part of this job, I noticed that the people operations process was very efficient, but our contractors' selection and onboarding process was more difficult. The lack of knowledge about the existence of the process led to a lack of flow, consistency and inefficient process tracking. For this reason, I took the opportunity to improve the process in collaboration with the stakeholders involved (purchasing, finance, HR, IT) by designing a new workflow and providing a tool to improve it.
2. Have you noticed any limits while implementing this methodology with the teams?
First, I would say that the difficulty lies in the practical implementation of an Advice Process (how do I start, who do I contact, how do I communicate, etc.). It is a decision protocol that is simple to describe but can be complicated to implement, whatever the problem to be tackled. On the other hand, not all decisions have to be taken through the Advice Process. Therefore, carrying out an advice process cannot be improvised and requires training, coaching and support for individuals and teams in specific use cases.
Secondly, it is a demanding protocol in which sharing and communicating the advice processes carried out within the organization are key. This requires to be transparent and to make the progress visible of one's thinking as it progresses (problem to be resolved, root causes, assumptions for resolution, results and consolidation of interviews, success assessment...). An advice process that is poorly documented and poorly communicated can lead to a lack of acceptance, failure to comply with a decision, similar thinking in parallel, contradictory decisions...
3. Based on your experience, what are the advantages of adopting this approach?
In my opinion, this leads to a better-quality decision fueled by a process of collective intelligence. Consulting the stakeholder’s point of view contributes to the enrichment of the suggestions and solutions offered. This reflects the field reality and thus improves the quality of the decision that will be taken.
This decision protocol offers an unprecedented opportunity to all the people in the organization who see a problem, to feel free to make everything evolve to improve the organization by asking the right questions to the right people. It is the ultimate stage of responsibility and self-driving that generates strong involvement and commitment.
It is finally a great chance to learn! As a decision-maker, you get to meet experts and learn from your peers about every aspect related to the topic.
4. Have you ever applied the Advice Process in your personal life?
Of course, many day-to-day situations can lead to the use of this decision protocol. The latest one was the choice of the New Year's Eve menu!