Effective organizations assign people to particular roles, such as Process Owners, to solve problems better and make choices faster. Yet, it is frighteningly easy it is to exclude the right people in problem-solving. Who plays what role is not always clear in organizations. In organizations where specialized knowledge and expertise are distributed widely the different parts of an organization can see different problems in the same situation. Ensuring that the right people are at the whiteboard to solve the problem.
The Who-What Matrix is a great tool to ensure the right people are involved.
By including a wider set of people, the Who-What Matrix assists in creating trust, commitment, and a sense of procedural justice, and thus, enhance the likelihood of success. The matrix can also integrate people across functions, hierarchy, business units, locations, and partner organizations.
Once the need to problem-solve is identified, the matrix can be used to determine what people and organizations should be involved in which roles in problem-solving and whose interests should betaken into account in the deliberations. Players may provide input (information, ideas, resources); be part of the solving process(formulating problem, gathering data, doing analyses, generating solution options, supporting the work), be among those making choices or executing them. Considering the interests of all players during problem-solving can lead to better choices and outcomes.
The aim is to use the framework’s categories to think broadly but be selective in deciding which players play what role. A lengthy collection of players can be so overwhelming as to lead to neglect. The same player can play more than one role, and roles played can change over time. Players can come and go as problem-solving proceeds and circumstances change.
By deliberately bringing people into problem-solving, we are showing how to give people a meaningful role in the learning culture.
The roles breakdown as:
- Input: Provide input, provide data gathering, data sources
- Recommend: Evaluate problem, recommend solutions and path forward
- Decide: Make the final decision and commit the organization to action
- Perform: Be accountable for making the decision happen once made
- Agree: Formally approve a decision, implies veto power
- Outcome: Accountable for the outcome of problem solving, results over time