Ad hoc decision-making

In any organizational setting, the act of making decisions is an integral part of daily operations. However, a pervasive challenge arises when there is a lack of a well-defined and structured process for making these decisions. This challenge, commonly known as ad hoc decision-making, has significant ramifications that ripple throughout the organization.

Ad hoc decision-making refers to a scenario where decisions are approached in an impromptu and unstructured manner. Instead of following a systematic process that involves collecting relevant information, engaging stakeholders, evaluating options, and adhering to predefined criteria, decisions are often made on the spot or based on personal preferences. This results in a series of symptoms and consequences that can detrimentally impact the team and the organization as a whole.

The absence of a clear decision-making process gives rise to feelings of frustration, confusion, and anxiety among team members. When decisions need to be made, there is a lack of established guidelines to follow, leading to uncertainty about who should be involved, how information should be gathered, and what criteria should be considered. This uncertainty can foster an environment where team members feel disempowered and disengaged, as they grapple with the ambiguity of how decisions are reached.

As a direct result of this lack of clarity, decision delays become commonplace. Without a structured approach, discussions can become prolonged, and important choices may be revisited multiple times. The absence of a defined process to guide decision-making often leads to repetitive back-and-forth conversations as participants try to convey necessary information in an ad hoc manner. This inefficiency not only consumes valuable time but also hampers the organization's ability to respond promptly to challenges and opportunities.

Furthermore, the quality of decision outcomes can suffer under the weight of ad hoc decision-making. Decisions made without a systematic process are more prone to oversights, lack of thorough analysis, and inadequate consideration of potential consequences. This can result in suboptimal choices that fail to address underlying issues, do not align with strategic goals, or lead to unintended negative impacts.

In conclusion, the ad hoc decision-making challenge encapsulates the detrimental effects of an organization's failure to establish a clear and structured decision-making process. The associated feelings of frustration, confusion, and anxiety, coupled with decision delays and poor outcomes, can collectively hinder an organization's effectiveness, efficiency, and overall success. Addressing this challenge requires the implementation of well-defined decision-making frameworks that promote transparency, collaboration, accountability, and strategic thinking in order to make informed and impactful decisions.


  1. Lack of decisional awareness
    1. Decisions are not identified: A general lack of decisional awareness keeps issues and friction from being identified as the need for decisions, resulting in a lack of progress and continued frustration.
    2. Next step not identified: The lack of a systematic decisional approach makes it less likely that the next step in the process is clearly communicated and commonly understood.
  2. Lack of Understanding and Treating Decision-Making as a Process:
    • People Taking Decisions Personally: When decisions are not seen as a process but as a judgment of one's ideas or expertise, individuals might feel offended or demotivated if their suggestions aren't chosen. This can lead to strained relationships and a decrease in collaboration.
    • Diminished Confidence in Leadership: Frequent ad hoc decisions can erode employees' confidence in leadership's ability to steer the organization effectively. This can impact morale and overall trust in management.
  3. Lack of a Decision-Making Template:
    • Protracted Decision-Making: Without a structured template, discussions tend to be prolonged as participants exchange information and viewpoints informally. This can lead to inefficiencies, wasted time, and frustration among team members.
    • Individual and intuitive processes: Without a structured decision-making template, individuals follow their own intuitions and process when making decisions,  which may be of varying quality and causes people to lean on eachother in order to confirm the thinking behind a decision-making process.
  4. Lack of a Decision Register:
    • Unclear Accountability: The absence of a decision register makes it challenging to track the status of pending decisions and who is responsible for each. This can result in delays and a lack of ownership in moving decisions forward.
  5. Lack of Decision Maker Identification:
    • Decision Bottlenecks: When decisions accumulate at higher management levels, it causes bottlenecks and delays in progress. This can hinder agility and responsiveness to changing situations.
    • Too many people involved in the decision: When no decision maker is clearly identified, too many people tend to get involved in the decision-making process.
    • Unclear mandate: When we are not actively identifying a decision maker, the lack of decision mandate can slow down the the decision making process.
  6. Lack of Stakeholder Identification:
    • Unaddressed Stakeholder Concerns: When stakeholders' voices are not considered, they may feel marginalized or unheard, leading to dissatisfaction and potentially affecting the success of decisions.
    • Poor Communication: Failing to inform stakeholders about decisions in a timely and clear manner can lead to misunderstandings and resentment.
  7. Lack of Clarity on Informed Decisions:
    • Decision-Maker Anxiety: Without clear criteria for making informed decisions, those responsible might feel anxious or unsure about whether they have considered all relevant factors. This can result in hesitation and delay.
    • Delayed or Reversed Decisions: The lack of clarity can lead to decisions taking an unnecessarily long time to be made or decisions being reversed due to inadequate consideration.
    • Lack of Data-Driven Decision Making: Ad hoc decisions might be made without sufficient data or analysis, missing opportunities for data-driven insights that could lead to better outcomes.
  8. Unclear Point of Conclusion:
    • Indecisiveness and Confusion: Without a clear determination of when a decision is final, discussions can become circular, and participants might become unsure whether a decision has been reached or what it entails.
    • Persistent Revisiting of Decisions: People might continue to revisit and attempt to influence a decision, even after others believe it has been settled. This can lead to frustration and wasted effort.
  9. Lack of Conclusion Logging:
    • Missed Learning Opportunities: Without a record of decisions and their outcomes, the organization misses the chance to learn from both successful and unsuccessful decisions. This can hinder continuous improvement and growth.