Documenting Decisions in a Remote Team

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

1. Clarify the decision

If you have a nebulous problem statement, it’ll be really hard to pin point what, if anything, was decided. It’s then much harder to communicate that. To communicate decisions effectively, you need a clear statement of what that decision is. This is important for all good decision making — shared context is hard to build and being vague about what a decision is really hurts this.

2. Decide & Share the Decision Makers

For a simple decision, it’s key to identify who the decision maker is: the person who will make the decision (and be accountable). For a more complex decision, doing a RACI responsibility assignment matrix works really well. The “responsible” person, or decision maker, is who should be communicating the decision. Without knowing who this is, you end up with a bystander effect where everyone participates in the decision, but no-one takes ownership of a) ensuring a decision is reached and b) communicating the decision.

3. Share That the Decision will Happen

For bigger decisions, it’s really helpful to share ahead what decision is being made, and by whom. This can be lightweight — a point on a meeting agenda (make sure to share your meeting notes!) or a quick email. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy process, but knowing ahead of time that a certain decision will be made helps people start to process it. This type of repetition happens naturally in co-located teams when people chat. In remote teams, sharing a quick heads up helps everyone be on the same page.

4. Document the Decision

Once your decision is made, in whatever format you’re using (via a meeting or as a conclusion from some research), you need to ensure two things. 1) Your decision is communicated and 2) There’s a record of that decision that can be accessed later.

But this all takes So. Damn. Long.

Yes. But it’s tremendously less time and effort than having your team not know what’s going on. Constantly putting out fires, re-doing work, and repairing relationships because people weren’t on the same page is far more time consuming than communicating intentionally.

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Katie Wilde

Katie Wilde

VP of Engineering at Ambassador Labs. I love it when you flourish.