visual decision making wit 5C and Kanban

Every day, we are required to make decisions. Some decisions are easy, but others require serious thinking and are difficult to make. The decisions that are more difficult to make are usually those that require more thinking and a lot more information. These can be life-changing situations, shape who we are, or share our future. In a professional environment, these difficult decisions can be shaping the future of our team, department, or the whole organization.

But having the proper tools, such as the best decision making process and a visualization board can be of great value and help in those situations. Let me explain how.

5C Approach to Decision Making

Everybody’s decision making process is different. And that’s ok. But to make sure you don’t end up going through an endless process, here’s Alan Barker’s 5C approach to decision-making you need to make a good decision:

Step 1: Considering

The first step is to identify possible solutions, then explore how each one fits in your situation, and whether it will help you get your desired outcome. Eliminate the ones that don’t fit or are unlikely to get you the desired results.

Step 2: Consulting

Now that you have selected several alternatives, include everyone who’d be affected by the decision to join. Ask people to provide their opinion and consider the consequences of each option. Then, using this input, make the most suitable decision.

Step 3: Committing

Next, you need to recommend a decision to the team. Or if it’s entirely up to you, make a commitment and take responsibility for the decision you made. If necessary, make sure to appoint a person to implement the decision.

Step 4: Communicating

Now, you need to communicate your decision to everyone who needs to be informed. Consider including the reasoning for the decision to get a better understanding and support. And prepare yourself and others to carry it out.

Step 5: Checking

The last step is to follow through and make sure the solution is properly implemented. Evaluate the results to make sure your decision was correct and it actually works.

Portfolio Kanban - Reduce Overburden - Improve Flow

The 5Cs and Kanban

How can you combine a decision-making process with Kanban? Well, you can visualize it using a Kanban board! The 5 steps present the 5 columns on your board. Of course, you can add a Backlog too. When adding the cards, make sure to prioritize them carefully. Assign a key owner to each card. Adjust this accordingly if the person that makes the decision is not the person that should implement it. Then, for each column set reasonable WIP limits. And if necessary, and swimlanes to separate decisions by types or by the person.

When you visualize the process, you can track and improve your decision-making flow and learn some valuable things, like how long it takes to make certain decisions, see if there are any impediments, or track how the implementation flows. Also, you can also go over each card in the “checking” column and learn why things (didn’t) work.

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Effects of Visualization on Decision Making

In addition to visualizing the process, we can make decision-making easier by visualizing the data too. That way, we can transform massive amounts of information and data into easy-to-consume and easy-to-share insights. And instead of attaching 100+ page documents, you can simply add your graphs and charts (as docs, images, links) to the corresponding cards on your Kanban board. That way, the most relevant data will be highlighted and available to everyone.

You already know that visualization of your process is very beneficial. But here are the 3 key ways in which data-visualization supports the decision process:

1. Visualizations Highlight The Most Relevant Data

When you add all of your inputs, you can use visualization tools to detect the relationships in the data, merge it into functional charts and models, or remove errors from the dataset. The results are massive amounts of data displayed in easy-to-understand formats such as charts, graphs, or diagrams, that make it easier to process the presented information, draw actionable insights faster and make an informed decision.

2. Create Demonstrations of Decision Outcomes

Interactive tools can generate visual representations of future forecasts by allowing you to use a combination of specific filters and parameters, current and historical data. These interactive tools help you avoid some risks and pitfalls associated with uncertainty. Moreover, knowing your historical results and the (tentative) future of your work can help you set more precise benchmarks and KPIs. When hard data shows favorable forecasts, it’s easy to move ahead. And vice-versa.

3. Help you focus on business efforts

Visual data representations related to your business performance allow you too quickly scan and understand which parts of your company are stronger than others. Using this info, you can make smarter financial and operational decisions. You can then investigate the reasons behind your low performing products, projects or teams, and decide whether you can and should try to implement measures for improvement or move on from them, allowing successful ones to thrive.

Embracing Visual Decision Making

Great decision-making has always been a crucial skill in any environment. That’s it’s important to have a strong system you can rely on when you are faced with making important decisions. General advice for easing the process is to talk about the problem and possible solutions, or take notes.

But we are visual creatures. We can retain 80% of what we see, 20% of what we read, and less than 10% of what we hear. So visualizing decision-making is the key to making more accurate, better-informed decisions easier and faster, don’t you think?

About the Author: Ivana Sarandeska

Ivana Sarandeska is a digital marketer, creative writer and master procrastinator. An Agile enthusiast and a firm believer that thorough planning is key to good execution and even better improvisation. She has a soft spot for technology, so most of her full-time jobs were in IT companies where she was introduced to Agile and Scrum. After she got her Scrum Basics certification she started actively using these methodologies and their main principles. Learning how to organize her time and tasks better has motivated her to dive deeper into these methodologies. Now, she is an avid advocate of Agile and Scrum and happily shares her knowledge and experience to fellow procrastinators.