Coda doc by Shishir Mehrotra
SPADE: How to Make A Decision inspired by Gokul Rajaram
SPADE is a framework on how to make difficult decisions. Started by Gokul Rajaram at Square, SPADE stands for Setting, People, Alternatives, Decide, and Explain.
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How To Make Difficult Decisions

Many teams believe in the consensus method for making difficult decisions. Gokul Rajaram of Square saw the consensus method used over and over again at various organizations, and came to this conclusion:

“Consensus means no ownership. What’s important is not that everyone agrees, but that everyone is heard and then the right person makes a decision.”

In this blog post, Rajaram discusses how difficult decisions require a decision-making framework, and the post shows a quadrant diagram for understanding how important or urgent a decision is. While this framework helps your team understand which decisions are difficult, Rajaram developed another framework called SPADE that helps your team quickly make a decision.

The SPADE Decision-Making Framework

The goal of the SPADE decision-making framework is to speed up and collaboration especially for difficult decisions. The framework does not use consensus as a mechanism for making decisions. Context, which is a an important piece in the Cynefin framework, is incorporated into the SPADE framework as well. Here’s a description for each component of SPADE:

  • Setting - The context for the decision. The Setting should consists of a what, where, and why. Knowing the Setting answers the question: what does this decision matter?
  • People - The types of people included in the framework are those who are consulted (provide input to the decision), the person who approves the decision, and the person who is responsible for making the call.
  • Alternatives - The responsible person (the decision-maker) should come up with alternatives without bias. The alternatives should be feasible, diverse, and comprehensive.
  • Decide - Bring all consultants back into the same room, and ask them to submit their vote privately. This allows your colleagues to be honest about their choices and not succumb to peer pressure.
  • Explain - The decision-maker should explain the decision and the impact of the decision.

The SPADE Template

This SPADE decision-making template helps you and your team keep track of all the difficult decisions that are being put through the SPADE framework. Track the stage of teach decision, write long-form content for the decision, and even e-mail all the content for a SPADE decision with the push of a button.

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SPADE: How to Make A Decision inspired by Gokul Rajaram
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