Decision-Ready Information

What information do you bring to a meeting? Does it help drive design and construction decisions?

I heard architect Scott Simpson speak several years ago, and he described a concept that has stuck with me ever since. He was speaking on HyperTracking, which The Stubbins Associates (now KlingStubbins) called a team structure we now call Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). The concept is key for this collaborative project approach, but its importance is more universal. The phrase that stuck with me was “decision-ready information”. Decision-ready information consists of the key facts required for a meaningful, final decision about a subject to be decided.

In an IPD project, major decision-makers are expected to attend every meeting, so that decisions made in the meeting have meaningful buy-in and closure. These meetings can be intense, not to mention very expensive. It’s the responsibility, therefore, of each team member to bring decision-ready information for the decisions on the agenda. If the owner, lead design professional, and contractor are all present and ready to make a decision between two systems, and no one has brought a cost comparison of the two systems in contention, the decision can’t be closed until the information can be found. Team members all have to do their homework, before the meeting, so that the meeting is effective and the project can stay on schedule.

This concept contains a lesson for product representatives, as well as the rest of project teams, regardless of the team structure. Before a meeting, try to anticipate the decisions that should or could be made. (Can you ask? Ask.) What key facts will be required to complete these decisions? Prepare that information well, and bring it to the table.

Even if the key players aren’t at the table, well-presented information can be carried up the chain of command by the people in the room. These key facts will become the decision-ready information in the next meeting, where you may not be present. Clearly stated, decision-ready information helps your teammates look good to their teammates. Design professionals love representatives who help them look good. (This is also the old-fashioned way information "goes viral": good information gets carried along.)

And manufacturers, are you arming your representatives with decision-ready information? Think about what information about your product might drive project decisions, and make sure it's available in an easy format for your representatives to bring to the table.