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Decide & Document: Why Every Company Needs A Decision Log

Failing to document decisions can lead to bottlenecks, confusion, and lost productivity.

*Ping!* “Which feature are we building next?”

*Ping!* “What role are we currently hiring for?”

*Ping!* “Did they decide on a location for the offsite?”

*Ping!* 

*Ping!!* 

*Ping!!!*

Just another day in remote work paradise, am I right? I mean, how are we supposed to find some focus and get things done when there is a constant barrage of questions being asked all day about the myriad of decisions teams make? 

Sure, the inquiries might seem innocuous enough but studies show that when we get pulled away from a task, even for just a minute, it can take over 20 minutes to get back into the zone.  Do the math and then the next time your boss asks why a project is running late tell them why.

Luckily, it really doesn’t have to be this way. All you need is a decision log. Well, that and some basic work culture hygiene that literally takes less time than brushing your teeth. 

How many decisions are you really documenting? (Honestly.)

What is a decision log?

Decisions are happening at work every day all around us, in chat, in meetings, in email. Wherever collaborative work is taking place, odds are a decision is being made. Often.  decisions take place among a small group of people behind closed doors, literally and figuratively, and never get broadcast to the wider audience who might be relying on that information now or in the future to get things done. Other times, decisions will happen in public, like a chat channel, but then simply scroll out of view like they never really existed at all. 

A decision log solves this. 

Decision logs are team and companywide sources of truth for important decisions. They memorialize the who, what, why, when, and where surrounding a decision so that current and future employees can learn, plan, and move work forward with confidence and clarity. Plus, they should be built in a way that makes decisions easily searchable and shareable.

For example, you might want to change the location of a button in an app and wonder why it was never done before. A decision log could illuminate the fact that an exact experiment was run a year ago and didn’t perform well. Having this information readily available saves valuable time and resources. 

Creating a decision log

A decision log can be organized in a multitude of ways by using docs or spreadsheets. Or, you can use Hoop.

While there are many different decision making processes out there, at its core a decision log should capture the following information from your preferred process in order to provide the necessary context surrounding a decision:

  • The decision being made
  • The date it was decided
  • Who made the decision
  • Who was involved in the process
  • Any relevant data or information
  • A brief summary of the reasoning for the decision

Having all of this information readily available in a decision log empowers employees to seek out information and learn for themselves (keeping those Slack pings to a minimum) and also informs them who to reach out to in case there are additional questions surrounding the decision.

Hoop automatically creates a decision log for your workspace.

Capturing those decisions

Remember when I mentioned that decision logs require a little bit of work culture hygiene improvement? This is that part. 

As you can see, what goes into a decision log is simple enough. The trick however is actually documenting all of those decisions that happen across meetings and apps. As the folks at August, who specialize in business transformation, say, “If it's not written down, it isn't decided." Which is true, if no one knows the outcome of a decision then no one can move forward.

This is why establishing the owner of who logs a decision is key. Back when I worked at Atlassian we had program managers in our meetings who would be in charge of documenting outcomes during a Zoom call. Other times if the decision took place somewhere like Slack then it would be on the decision maker to own documentation and circulation of the decision. Taking the time to establish these roles and responsibilities surrounding decision making, documentation, and distribution can save a lot of headache down the road.

(Pro tip: With the Hoop app for Slack installed you can simply use the “/decided” slash command to document and log a decision without switching apps.)

Creating a decision log is not hard and over time the rewards greatly outweigh the initial set up. However, Hoop is here to help make it all ever easier. 

If you’d like to streamline your company’s decision making process, easily document and distribute decisions wherever work is happening, and build a decision log automatically then sign up for the Hoop waitlist today.

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