A sneak peek into our still-developing process of decision-making at Ilmiö

When I was a kid, my mom often said, ”Älä päätä toisten puolesta,” which means ”Don’t decide for others.” I used to think she just wanted me to avoid acting like I knew what was best for people. But now I see wisdom in her words – they’re a reminder to approach choices openly and collaboratively by listening to others, rather than making assumptions. And yeah, I’m still working on building that mindset, it’s a process!

A sneak peek into our still-developing process of decision-making at Ilmiö

Yesterday over coffee, my colleague Sakari and I slipped into a work conversation. Despite it being Saturday, we ended up passionately debating a ”life-altering” subject: Should we start scheduling ”decision outcome meetings” right after our sales meetings?

I like to keep my schedule open and flexible, so the idea of booking another meeting right away felt like overkill to me. But Sakari, with his structured, organized approach to sales, saw it differently. After discussing the pros and cons, we agreed the smartest approach was to ask customers how they’d like to proceed after meetings. Their feedback would help us create better follow-up processes.

As this light-hearted debate with Sakari unfolded, it got me thinking, once again, about the bigger topic. How do we actually make decisions at Ilmiö? And if and when we grow in the future, how can we scale our decision-making in an aligned way?

Deciding how we decide at Ilmiö

Right now, we’re on a journey to figure out our decision-making style rather than settling on a fixed policy and set of rules on how to make decisions.

When it comes to decision-making at Ilmiö, one thing is clear: we avoid complicating things more than necessary. A good example of this is our approach to organizational structure. We have chosen not to have a CEO because we feel there is simply no need for one at this point. This choice reflects our commitment to maintaining a streamlined operation by only adding roles and structure as needed.

Our board, consisting of three team members plus an external person, serves as a hub for deeper discussions on matters that require strategic foresight. When it comes to significant matters and investments, like rolling out employee benefits or confirming the annual budget, that’s where the board steps in. But let’s be real, we prefer to keep decision-making at this ceremonial platform to a minimum. This allows us to maintain the agility and responsiveness in our day-to-day operations.

As our team at Ilmiö continues developing our approach to collective decision-making, it’s become clear that effectively scaling this process poses inherent challenges – even within our still small, tightly-knit team. On one hand, we want to democratize decision-making, ensuring everyone’s voice is heard. On the other hand, we also value self-directed action that allows individual team members the autonomy to make quick choices. Personally, I believe there’s a balanced middle ground and that it can be found through genuine collaboration among us.

Should we flip a coin?

Our past experiences shape how we decide. Sakari brings insights from telecom and startup, Anton from large ICT firms, and I come from a blend of tech and consulting. However, it’s not just our professional journeys that contribute to the richness of perspectives. Our personal histories, interests, and outlooks on life also play a role in creating a wide range of perspectives that greatly influence our decision-making.

In the past, the ways we’ve arrived at conclusions have been quite diverse, ranging from informal to formal approaches. For example, sometimes we’ve made a quick decision by flipping a coin to determine who takes on a less-than-desirable task. Other times, we’ve taken a more formal approach and used a Slack poll to gather team input on important decisions like finalizing our new brand identity.

Given our different perspectives, it’s not always straightforward to make unanimous decisions. Personally, I’m drawn to collaborative problem-solving, so when faced with situations lacking clear solutions, I often find myself taking on a facilitator role. While I’m open to taking the lead, it doesn’t come naturally to me. I still have sooo much to learn when it comes to facilitating discussions and leading decision-making. One valuable aspect of working at Ilmiö is the opportunity to explore roles without fear of failure, which helps me actively develop those skills.

And yes, through experiences at work and in my personal life, I’ve learned that total agreement just isn’t always needed – sometimes, an issue isn’t so serious that everyone has to see it the same way. This picture from the office kitchen wall of our partner company captivates it well 😀


Where are decisions made and when not to decide?

The platforms where the decisions are made also matter. Through ongoing interactions on Slack, discussions in face-to-face meetings, and scheduled regular catch-ups, our decisions come to life. The forum for decision-making is more than just a space and it’s also a subject of debate within our team. Are some decisions better made in person, while others are more efficiently handled online? We’re still figuring it out.

And while we’re busy considering what, how, and where to decide, there’s also the often-overlooked question — whether to decide at all. Are there instances when no decision is, in fact, the best decision? Sometimes, refraining from making a choice can be wiser than making multiple decisions based on incomplete information.

There you have it, a glimpse into our world of decision-making at Ilmiö. 

Tehdään yhdessä?

Ota yhteyttä ja sovi juttutuokio kanssamme!