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What Is RAPID Decision‑Making?

Are you ready to improve your organization’s decision‑making process? Use the RAPID framework to help your global and local teams make better complex decisions.

Working in a close-knit team often feels like a well-oiled machine, with tasks flowing seamlessly from one member to another. Yet, the moment a decision needs to be made, that smooth workflow can come to a screeching halt.

Uncertainty about which team members should take part in this decision, and their individual roles in it, disrupts the rhythm, leading to delays and potential conflicts. To restore that rhythm, it helps to have a clear process to follow, like the RAPID decision-making framework.

Created by Bain & Company, RAPID sorts out who does what whenever it’s time to make important decisions in your organization. This helps decide matters faster and more efficiently while improving clarity, accountability, and collaboration. Here’s how it works.

The RAPID decision-making model  

The RAPID decision-making model can change how you and your team make decisions. It offers much-needed structure by defining 5 key roles: Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input, and Decide. These roles clarify which team members provide input, create the proposal, have the final say, and put the plan into action.

Recommend

In the RAPID model, the Recommender provides the person in the Decide role, or the Decision-Maker, with a clear, organized proposal. To do this well, they must have strong problem-solving skills and gather insights from those in the Input and Agree roles.

For the best results, assign the Recommend role to someone with a deep understanding of the subject matter. It’s also essential that the Decision-Maker trusts them to ensure their recommendations are valued.

Throughout the decision-making process, they will need to accurately assess the insights, facts, and stats to create an effective plan of action. Feedback from the Input and Agree roles may vary, so the Recommender should be open to different viewpoints.

Agree

The person assigned to the Agree role needs to show support for the decision being proposed. To do that effectively, they must review the recommendation, consider the risks involved, and share their concerns and suggestions.

Agreers do not simply reject the proposed plan if they believe it won’t work. Instead, they should offer key insights and data that help refine the proposal, ensuring it aligns with the team’s goals. Since that can lead to bottlenecks, involving as few people as possible in this process can lead to quicker decisions.

You do not always have to assign this role. It’s typically only needed for specialized decisions that must follow financial, legal, and technical rules. If you need to select an Agreer, ensure they have expertise in the relevant area to provide valuable insights and support.

Perform

The Perform role is all about turning finalized decisions into action. Once the plan is in place, it’s the Performer’s job to make it happen. They ensure that the necessary tasks are carried out smoothly by managing resources, sticking to timelines, and overseeing all practical aspects.

You can get great results by assigning this role to individuals with a track record of getting things done. They must have excellent communication and project management skills, and a keen attention to detail.

Loop the Performer in at the beginning of the planning process whenever possible. Consider also putting them in the Input role, so they can share any concerns about implementation before a decision is made.  

Input

People in the Input role provide the Recommender with material and insights essential for making informed decisions. They may do that by researching, collecting data, or simply leaning on their expertise.

In most cases, you’ll assign this role to several project team members, but involve only as many people as necessary to prevent conflicting ideas. Select contributors with expertise or access to critical data related to the decision at hand. You might also want to consider people who could be strongly affected by the final decision.

While the Input role is vital to creating thoughtful proposals, the Recommender does not always have to follow their advice. This flexibility helps prevent delays in the decision-making process due to disagreements.

Decide

The Decide role holds the ultimate authority for making the final choice. This individual or group considers the proposal developed by the Recommender but is not bound by it. Before approving, they must think about the trade-offs and confirm that the plan aligns with the organization’s mission, values, and goals.  

Ideally, you’ll want to assign the Decide role to an individual to ensure clarity and accountability. A suitable candidate could be someone who knows the subject well, shows strong leadership, and understands the organization’s goals. However, you can give the decision-making responsibilities to a group instead if you establish a well-defined governance structure.

While leadership often holds the decision-making power, it doesn’t always have to be that way. Looking beyond the leadership team can result in a more unbiased and inclusive decision-making process.   

How the RAPID decision-making process works

If you’re looking at the RAPID acronym and thinking that the decision-making process flows don’t make sense, you’re absolutely right. That’s because it’s not meant to be completed in order.

For example, the Recommender may repeatedly meet with those in the Input and Agree roles to develop an actionable proposal. Or if the Decision-Maker doesn’t approve the proposal, that process may need to start over.  

To demonstrate how this involved process might work, here’s an example of using the RAPID decision-making model when selecting an email marketing strategy.

Assigning roles

When using the RAPID decision-making framework, it’s necessary to kick-start the process by assigning each role to a single person or group. This is what it might look like for a marketing company.

  • Recommend: The Head of Marketing Research plays the role of Recommender. They will research the options and create a data-backed email marketing strategy.
  • Agree: The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Head of Legal Compliance take on the roles of Agreers. They’ll review the proposed strategy from financial and legal perspectives.  
  • Perform: The Marketing Manager is chosen as the Performer. They will deploy the email marketing strategy once it’s decided.
  • Input: The Product Development team will step into the Input role. They’ll provide info about product features and updates to enhance the marketing strategy. 
  • Decide: The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) serves as the Decision-Maker. They will approve the new email marketing strategy to boost leads and sales.

Going through a step-by-step process

 Although the process differs for every decision, team, and organization, the following approach could work when choosing an email marketing strategy.

  1. The Head of Marketing Research (Recommend) asks the Product Development team (Input) about product features and updates. Then, they gather relevant input from the CFO and Head of Legal Compliance (Agree) to further inform their email marketing strategy.
  2. The Recommender uses product, financial, and legal insights to develop a marketing strategy proposal. It’s presented to the CMO (Decide) for review.
  3. The Decision-Maker reviews the proposal, considering all factors, including financial and legal aspects. They may approve it, request revisions, or reject it.
  4. Upon approving the proposal, the CMO gives the Marketing Manager (Perform) the finalized marketing strategy.
  5. The Performer puts the plan into action, ensuring the resulting email marketing campaigns align with the set guidelines.

The above example shows how the RAPID model can help teams make well-informed decisions. But remember, there are various approaches to achieving the same goal.

Benefits of using the RAPID decision-making framework

When making decisions as a team, do the lines of responsibility often blur, causing confusion, disagreements, and delays? If so, the RAPID decision-making process can provide the structure to clarify who’s responsible for what—and how to best move forward. Still unsure? Explore the following benefits.

Boost employee buy-in

With RAPID, every team member knows their role. By clearly defining roles, you can better achieve employee buy-in, as everyone feels more connected and involved. This helps boost productivity and improves your organization’s culture by fostering a more positive and collaborative team environment. It also leads to higher-quality decisions that benefit your organization’s bottom line and overall success.  

Reduce bottlenecks

A poorly defined decision-making process often results in unnecessary holdups. Ambiguous approval processes or unclear feedback can stall your team, preventing you from moving to the next steps. RAPID removes these bottlenecks, thus boosting your team’s efficiency and ensuring complex projects get completed on time and within budget.

Make high-quality decisions

It’s not uncommon for teams to grapple with rushed or uninformed decisions that miss key details or perspectives. The RAPID framework addresses this by giving your team a formal process to follow. Well-defined roles and steps allow you to base your choices on collective insight, much to the benefit of your organization.

Clarify decision accountability

RAPID reduces the risk of misunderstandings about who’s responsible for making decisions. No one has to guess what to do or deal with overlapping duties. With each role distinctly outlined, accountability is clear, minimizing confusion and reducing chaos in the team. This ensures your team can focus on completing tasks effectively and driving better results for the company.

Pitfalls to look out for when using RAPID decision-making

While RAPID aims to simplify and streamline the decision-making process, there are potential pitfalls to keep in mind, such as:

Leaving out key stakeholders

You need all key stakeholders on board when making critical decisions. Leaving any relevant parties out of the equation can result in decisions that lack essential insights and information. And that’s all too easy to do if you don’t map out your team and carefully select the people with the right expertise.

To avoid this pitfall, regularly review and update stakeholder lists. Verify that all relevant parties are involved from the start. Then, purposefully capture their insights throughout the decision-making process.

Getting helpful input from the team

Making informed decisions involves getting the right kind of feedback. Broad or vague comments can lead the Recommender down the wrong path. They need direct and actionable insights to inform their recommendations.

Ensure your team contributes helpful input by providing examples of what that might look like. Also, consider setting up structured feedback sessions to support the proposal creation process.  

Lack of RAPID decision-making training  

Without proper RAPID training, your team may be unsure how to implement it. Roles and responsibilities can become unclear, hindering progress and preventing good decision-making.

It’s possible to turn things around by simply investing in RAPID framework training. Involve everyone on your team, not just the current stakeholders, to prepare everyone to make excellent decisions now and in the future. Repeat the training annually as a refresher and to help new hires get up to speed. 

Streamline decision-making with the RAPID process

Swift and sound decision-making is pivotal to your team’s success. Most successful organizations streamline the decision-making process one way or another—and RAPID is a great way to do that. It sets the stage for better results by clearly identifying all the key players and their roles. No more second-guessing or endless discussions. With RAPID, every complex decision has direction and clarity, setting your business apart and propelling it forward.

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