The advice process is a consultation method that allows one or more people to make a decision that applies to a larger group if:
- they have listened to the advice of people concerned by the issue
- they have listened to the expert advice on the subject
The advantage of this process is to encourage individual initiative while taking the group into account. It prevents blocking a decision, ensures agility and speed of action while developing humility.
The key to the success of the process lies above all in the mindset and approach adopted: a “collaborative” decision that respects the principle of subsidiarity, is based on trust in those who make the final decisions and seeks consent rather than consensus.
Using the advice process assumes that you are confident that the individuals who make up your team and organisation are adults:
- Managers who should be treated as such
- Concerned about doing what is required for the company
- Able to bring ideas and perspectives
- Able to make decisions
- Able to learn and take on challenges
The listening and openness of the decision-maker and the people consulted are essential ingredients of a successful advice process.
- You identify a problem, a need or an idea for change involving a decision.
- Before embarking on the advice process as such, you validate if there is interest in the topic or not by asking your colleagues if someone is already working on it, if initiatives have been carried out in the past, with what results, etc. This is also the time to gather existing documentation.
- You delve deeper into the topic to form a first idea about the decision to be made.
- You identify the people to be consulted, you contact them and ask them for their opinion on the decision you are thinking of taking, specifying that your question is part of the advice process.
- You make the decision and inform all stakeholders.
Communicating about the decision and how it was made is part of an educational effort that increases one’s chances of being respected.
After careful analysis, you choose the solution you deem most appropriate, even if it means going against the advice of some of the people consulted.
- The consultation can be done in different forms and combine informal conversations (online or face-to-face), interviews or surveys. Online tools can be used to consult a wide range of people.
- If the decision is disputed, a small group can be formed to discuss it further before relaunching the advice process.
- It is also possible to ask a third party to lead the advice process on a topic you have identified if you feel they are more qualified to do so.
- While the use of the advice process is mostly found in organisations operating horizontally, some use the advice process while maintaining a hierarchy. In this case, they can include the requirement to consult specific categories of people in the process, e.g. managers.