Collaboration vs Leadership in Decision Making

In last month’s post about vendor margins and cannibalization of older high margin products by newer low margin products, Cisco was highlighted as a firm with a high level of innovation whose profit margins disappointed investors. Carl at Chicago Boyz offers a critique of the management structures used by Cisco that gets at the root cause of their problems. It appears that Cisco CEO Chambers reorganized management to operate as committees and utilize collaborative decision making processes – ultimately 70% of Cisco’s decisions were collaborative.

The core idea of the business enterprise and entrepreneur-ship is all about leadership, accountability and personal responsibility. Businesses aren’t non profit organizations, they aren’t schools, and they aren’t after-school specials. They are serious efforts, with salaries and families and cities on the line, and people need to be given roles and held to the results that they committed to. These aren’t concepts that can be maintained through revolving committees where no one is responsible. Trying isn’t good enough.

While committees can be help bring many perspectives to a decision maker, business success relies on accountability and personal responsibility of decision makers.

This is equally true for ERP selection and implementation projects. Where ERP project committees can canvas the entire enterprise for business requirements, only an accountable leader who is responsible for business results can make the tradeoff decisions between functionality of competing vendors or the desirability of a range of system modification requests during implementation. A committee without such a leader will end up with an ERP project that is over budget and delivered late if ever, often missing out on the key business benefits that justified the ERP investment.

HarrisData’s Quick Start Guide helps our customers understand how to balance collaboration and decision making to ensure the ERP project is on time and under budget while delivering the benefits their businesses need.

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