RAPID Decision Making

Here we are again!  How many times do we need to beat this dead horse?  Conversations go round and round and never seem to come to a concrete conclusion.  Meanwhile, another hour wasted, and timelines continue to slip.  What we need is a way to make a decision and move forward.  Fortunately, we have a better way…

Get to the Point

You may have heard:

Win Fast,

Win Slow,

Lost Fast,

But Never Lose Slow

Point being, even if the outcome is unfavorable, it is still better to come to that conclusion as quickly as possible and move on rather than let things linger on.  How many times have you been in a team meeting, conversations go down the rabbit hole and time is up with no clear decision or direction in sight?  The can gets kicked down the road once again!  What often is lacking is a clear definition of roles within the decision-making process, leading to SLOW decision making.  We often find that when given enough time, if you don’t make a decision the decision gets made for you.  Wouldn’t you rather be the master of your own fate?

RAPID Decision-Making Model

We’ve found that the RAPID decision-making model provides a simple framework that teams may employ for effective and efficient decision making.  The model clearly defines clear roles each participant plays in the decision-making process.  Time is best spent when teams first determine the role of each person around the table before diving into the topic content.  Discussions can then be focused by each individual contributing to the decision-making process.  So then, what are the roles and what are the rules of engagement for better decision-making?


Ok, for the acronym to make sense, it is best to being with the end in mind and define the role of the decision maker.  Afterall, the point is to make a RAPID decision!  The person who is to decide is the single person with the authority to commit the team and / or the organization to action.  This person is ultimately accountable for outcome of the project or initiative.  Best decisions are made when authority and accountability are aligned!



For the decision maker to make an informed decision, they need a single point of reference who can pull together all the important pieces of information to make a sound decision.  The recommender is the person who is tasked with collecting the required information, summarizing the information, and presenting the decision maker with a recommended course of action.  The recommender has much more responsibility than simply gathering information though.  They are responsible for collaborating with the other three roles to ensure all voices are heard and represented in decision making process.


Often, there are several individuals who are sought to provide input to the recommendation.  These will include subject matter experts and others who may be considered stakeholders in the decision.  It is often found that some people who provide input are very passionate about the topic at hand feel that they have decision making authority and are primary contributors to delaying the decision-making process.  Thus, it is essential to remind participants that their role is to provide input to be considered but may not be included in the final recommendation.


There is a similar decision-making model called RAID, which is nearly identical to RAPID only without the “P”.  We caution against the RAID model for the primary reason that success of the decision implementation relies on the person or people performing the work following the decision.  It is best to at least solicit input from the performers to capture their voices and opinions as well as keeping them informed and engaged in the project or initiative.  Very often, those who have to do the work have some of the best insights!


Finally, there are those who have to agree with the decision.  These typically include management representatives at higher levels than the decision maker.  Of course, not everyone will always be satisfied with decisions that are made (very often among those providing input or performing the work).  That is not the role of those who need to agree though.  Instead, this is the person or group that has “veto” power to overrule a decision.  As we have already established, the decision maker’s accountability is aligned with his / her authority for making the decision.  Thus, the veto should be used sparingly so as not to disempower nor disengage the decision maker.  It is then best for the recommender to also solicit the input from those who need to agree to ensure their agreement up front.

RAPID in Action

A very common decision we see that often gets delayed with the approval of a change in a business process.  Companies of a reasonable size often have standard operating procedures (SOPs) and work instructions (WIs) that define how work is to be performed.  These are “living” documents that need to be updated from time to time.  However, change is often not easily accepted and process improvements that could benefit the organization are delayed, if ever implemented at all.  The RAPID model may be used to help drive this change with increased velocity in just a few simple steps:

  1. Determine who the process owner is. This person is accountable for the process outcomes and hence should have the authority to make the decision for change.
  2. Determine who the recommender will be. This will be the project or change lead who will engage with the other team members to present the formal recommended change.
  3. Identify those who need to agree with the decision, who will be performing the work, and those who’s input should be solicited for consideration.
  4. The recommender will work with the team members, facilitating the conversations and collecting all the information required to make a sound recommendation.
  5. The formal recommendation will be presented to the decision maker in the form of a redlined document, along with any additional feedback the team may have to either enhance the recommended changes, or to dispute it.
  6. The process owner then makes the final decision on which changes will be included and which will not for the proposed revision.

Improvement vs. Perfection

While not always perfect, the RAPID decision-making method drives action toward improvement.  It is often said that perfection is the enemy of improvement.  It is almost always better to advance and course correct as needed rather than stall out in indecision.  Consider using the RAPID decision-making model the next time your team appears to be stuck.

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