The challenge to document and track decisions
How much of your time at work do you spend waiting on decisions, how often did you not know anymore what was decided in which context by whom? Happens, right? It’s typical for our modern work day. A day in which we use a myriad of technological advances and still face the digital disconnectivity more than ever. The reason for this is that a lot of our work is about deciding and executing decisions but the lack of proper tracking and documenting poses a substantial challenge and makes work more difficult. But why is it so challenging to document and track decisions?
One thing that poses a challenge in tracking and documenting is a little thing called human nature. People like their habits and the fact that decisions weren’t tracked in any way before is a habit we are rarely likely to break. Moreover, at first sight it seems that tracking and documenting decisions will be more work. It’s human nature to have difficulties seeing the benefits of something in the long run. Remember when you were in college and thought it was a good idea to invest your money into a spring break getaway? You probably could have foreseen that the rest of the month would be spent eating mac ’n’ cheese but nah. You went on the break, you probably deserved it and you were fine with paying the price later. The same is true with tracking and documenting decisions. We know we will inadvertently face the situations described in the beginning, we know the decision will be lost in documents but we decide that this is still better than putting in the extra work.
Traditionally decisions are made in meetings and then they are documented, exactly in the meeting minutes. What’s the average shelf life of meeting minutes? Let’s take a look how they live their life. It all starts in the meeting when the most junior person in the room is assigned to write the minutes. After the meeting they might be circulated amongst attendees to ensure that they are correct and then. Then they disappear into some document storage solution and shall never see the light of day again.
The challenge here is not so much in its format but that the format is disconnected to all the other tools we use at work. There’s email, there’s different word documents, there’s a project management tool, you name it. All these systems don’t talk to each other and decisions fall through the net.
The challenges that cause a lack of tracked decisions and ultimately frustrated knowledge workers who waste their time waiting for decisions is that there is no natural place to do so. We need to come up with arbitrary third solutions that only add to the millions of tools we use already, and we need to do double work. In order for decisions to be documented properly organizations need to take into use a solution that helps their employees and rather empowers than creates extra burdens and only if this is solved we can begin to think about tracking decisions.