What the heck is ducklining? It may be the most overlooked, yet important step in group decision making.
Most business people are familiar with the steps for critical decision-making.
- Define the problem and success criteria
- Gather and analyze information
- Develop alternative solutions
- Choose the best alternative
- Evaluate the decision and adjust
For complex decisions, a team of experts is enlisted to come up with the best recommendation. Then they hold a meeting to present it to the ultimate decision makers for approval to implement.
Gaining others’ approval for a group decision almost always takes longer than planned.
As it usually goes, the team presents their recommendation to the final decision makers. The decision makers ask questions, then request the team reconvene to do further analysis on new criteria, alternatives, or assumptions. Project results are delayed.
If you’re lucky it only takes a few more weeks to rework the recommendation, get the decision makers back together, make the new recommendation, and get approval. What typically happens, though, is it takes more iterations and much more time. There is a high cost for these delays.
That brings us back to ducklining. Ducklining is getting your ducks in a row prior to seeking approval.
Ducklining prior to the approval meeting will significantly accelerate the decision approval.
The team can ensure the top influencers are on board prior to the first approval meeting by doing the following:
- Identify the top two or three approval influencers (final decision makers or breakers)
- Meet one-on-one with them to ensure that their concerns, suggestions, and pre-conceived solutions are addressed throughout the decision-making process.
When you get to the final recommendation meeting, not only are “your ducks” not asking questions that can derail the meeting, but they’ll step up to promote your recommendation with the others. Ultimately, you get a better-quality decision and save time, money, and frustration.