The problem with top-down decision making

When those outside the daily work routine make decisions for end-users, they had better include them.

Having experienced, as an end-user, my share of tech rollout horror stories, I feel that I’m in a good position to weigh in on the matter. And if I can help even one IT manager see the error of his or her way, then I’ll feel better.

Here’s the scenario as I see it in my mind’s eye. The CEO/CIO tells the IT manager/director that the company needs a new cms and to go out and find the right one. The IT manager/director does some research as to what’s out there, meets with some vendors and comes back with three choices:

  • The most expensive app
  • The cheapest app
  • The app with the most features, particularly that one feature that is really awesome (as one charismatic vendor explained) but that happens to be something the end-users in the company would never have a need for.

The IT manager slaps the choices on the Wheel of Apps: 


They spin the wheel and make a selection.

So what's missing? Nowhere in this scenario is there any kind of fact-finding or data-gathering with the end-users, those who will actually be using the product. I don’t know what kind of tunnel-vision prevents the decision-makers from seeing the value of end-user input, but I suspect it’s mostly budgetary. And it's also very short-sighted.

Omitting the fact-finding upfront ends up costing the company more money in terms of lost productivity while training and down-time while addressing bugs (also known as old features that no longer work or new features that aren’t needed). If you want to really align with business, then the line goes both ways. Consider how a product is used before you make a decision about a new one.