By: Carolee Colter & Jeanie Wells
When an organization is going through rapid change, roles within the organization change, too, and not always in a consciously thought-through manner. Expansions can result in forming new layers of positions. For example, opening a second store creates the necessity for new approaches to buying. Relocating to a new facility with a much-expanded food service leads to adding assistant managers and shift leads. Even without significant growth, staff turnover can surface the need to formalize unspoken rules and informal relationships.
To effectively function, a business needs clarity about who has the authority to do what. And it’s not just a matter of identifying one role as the decision-maker. In the typical natural retailer, whether cooperatively or independently owned, there are multiple players in many decisions. Someone may make the ultimate decision, but only as a result of consultation with and input from others.
A decision matrix is a helpful tool for clarifying the different roles within the organization in getting a decision made. The size and complexity of the organization will govern how many different roles there are.
On the following pages is an example of how a decision matrix might be filled out for a co-op with two stores at $12 million in sales. It is not intended to prescribe how decision-making should be handled in your co-op but to illustrate how the decision matrix can be put to use.
Your organization may function in an entirely different way. But the decision matrix will be just as useful. The process of defining the roles in a decision is where the value of the tool lies. By thinking through the types of decisions that arise and the people who need to be involved, everyone comes to see their own work and the work of others with greater understanding. Ineffective or missing procedures for collecting input and keeping people informed can be improved or developed. Those who have been habitually left out can be included, while those who don’t need to be involved won’t have their time wasted.