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Decision-Making Flow Chart

Arapahoe Library District

Problem Statement

How do we effectively manage organizational change? During ALD's three-year internal organization development (OD) initiative, this question was a major focus. One hypothesis, that we continue to test, is that organizational change is related to decision-making, and that by better managing how decisions are made, we can better manage change. As part of this idea, we have begun a conscious move away from consensus decision-making to collaborative decision-making. This change is ongoing, and a key tool is our Decision-Making Flow Chart for Directors and Managers. The Flow Chart outlines each step of ALD’s collaborative decision-making process for the 13 system-wide decision makers (1 Executive Director, 1 Deputy Director, 2 Directors, 2 Associate Directors and 7 Managers).


The Decision-Making Flow Chart for Directors and Managers (attached) outlines the process of designing, communicating and implementing significant organizational changes. An important element is the requirement to “gather input from affected interests.” The dashed lines around these instructions indicate that the amount of input shrinks or expands relative to the significance of the decision. In requiring input, we honor ALD’s history of consensus decision-making, while empowering ourselves to make well-informed decisions that can be fully understood and supported. At the same time, it is a single decision maker who utilizes the process and publicly owns the final product, the Decision Announcement. This clarity of ownership advances us beyond consensus decision-making, as we have grown too large to do it effectively. By better pacing and managing the decision-making process, we believe we are more effectively managing organizational change.


From March 2007-March 2010, 88 Decision Announcements, from all 13 decision makers, have been released on ALD’s intranet. We have received consistent feedback from our Staff Committee that the decision-making process is clearer, that they appreciate the opportunity to give input, and that keeping a log of all decision announcements on our intranet (with links to the Decision Announcements) is helpful for understanding what was decided, when, and by whom. That’s encouraging feedback. Less encouraging but equally important has been the feedback from front-line supervisors, who tell us that now that the decisions are clearer, they and their staff are overwhelmed trying to keep up with the changes. The clarity afforded by the decision-making process has thus raised the next evolutionary question for us: What can we stop doing?