Adopting a management system like the Advice Process doesn’t happen overnight. Even within EE, where we have intelligent, free-thinking people, there were many bumps in the road. The main problems we encountered were around the transition of power, permission seeking and dealing with the tyranny of structurelessness.
A side effect of the Advice Process is that power and control is distributed widely throughout the company. This transition can be particularly difficult for those used to making decisions on behalf of others. Passing decision-making onto others brings uncertainty and feelings of lack of control, which may be uncomfortable for some. Over time, most people adjust to this new way of working, but if it completely goes against your grain, EE may not be the right fit for you.
The counter side to managers letting go is team members defaulting to the reflex of permission seeking. If you are the one who is being asked “for permission” then try not to just make a call but rather use this as a teachable opportunity. Ask questions about the problem, who are experts in the area, who might be affected and help them think about measuring the outcomes and reflecting on the learning. Basically, give them the tools and help them understand how to use them.
Another regular bump in the road we encounter is drawing the line between decisions that are small, fast or low-risk enough to incorporate in our everyday work versus those that benefit from the investment, transparency and consultation of using the Advice Process. The same conflict occurs when faced with decisions that are larger, but fall within one’s existing responsibilities. Using the Advice Process doesn’t come for free, so the benefits its usage brings need to be weighed up against the cost. Often we’ll apply the principles of the Advice Process (e.g. soliciting advice, enumerating the costs and success metrics), without formally writing up and publishing the decision. This is a blurred line that we still haven’t got totally right and can generate some confusion; something we continue to work on.