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Decision Making Frameworks
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SPADE (Square)

SPADE - Setting, People, Alternatives, Decide and Explain


What: Precisely define the decision
When: Calendar the exact timeline for the decision
Duration of time needed to make the choice
Why it will take that amount of time

Why: The why defines the value of the choice. It explains what you’re optimizing for and reveals why the decision matters


Responsible: the person who's responsible for making the decision is the person who's accountable for its execution and success.
Approves: the person who can veto the decision
Consulted: gives input and feedback; consultants are known and named


It’s the job of the responsible person — the decision maker — to come up with a set of alternatives to consider, without any bias.
Alternatives should be
Feasible — they should be realistic
Diverse — they should not all be micro-variants of the same situation
Comprehensive — they should cover the problem space


Gather perspectives
Bring all the consultant folks back into the room and present everything.
This involves listing out the alternatives, their pros and cons, and the values from the model you ran.
Then ask them for their feedback
The most important part part of this process is to ask them to send you their vote privately.

After gathering private votes, the decision make should evaluate the information thouthfully consider people’s votes, and then make the decision.
This involves choosing one of the alternatives, and writing out in as much detail as possible, why they chose it.


The final step of the framework requires the decision maker to explain the decision. In short, she must articulate why she chose the alternative that she did, and explain the anticipated impact of the decision. This process is much easier if the decision maker records her thoughts as soon as she makes the decision. This stage involves three steps:
Run your decision and the process by the Approver.
Convene a commitment meeting: Pull together all the consultants that have been involved in the decision. Now is when you explain the decision and really take ownership of the decision
Call a commitment meeting: after the decision is made, it’s paramount that each person — regardless of being for or against the result — individually pledges support out loud in the meeting

Next Steps

Circulate the the decision for precedent and posterity.
The decision maker must summarize the SPADE behind the decision in a one page document. This brief should be emailed out by the decision maker to the rest of the company or to as broad of an audience as possible. Why? Because the company needs to see what and how decisions are being made.”

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