What is RAPID decision-making?

Alicia Raeburn contributor headshotAlicia Raeburn3 июня 2022 г.6 мин. на чтение
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Summary

RAPID is an acronym used for assigning roles on your team when you’re faced with a larger decision. The acronym standards for: Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input, and Decide. RAPID helps you make better decisions by clarifying the different types of feedback you need from each stakeholder—so you can get the full benefit of their expertise.

It's normal to feel nervous when you have to make a big decision at work. After all, you never quite know how things will turn out. Luckily,  data-driven decision-making frameworks can help lessen those nerves by clearly assigning roles and responsibilities for each decision

Enter RAPID decision-making, a framework that helps you assign team members to specific roles. RAPID is particularly helpful for making larger decisions with a lot of stakeholders, because each stakeholder knows what type of feedback they’re expected to provide. RAPID is an acronym for five roles, each of which are responsible for different aspects of the decision-making process.

What is the rapid decision-making model?

Developed by Bain & Company, the RAPID decision-making model is used to assign key roles to different people during the decision-making process. RAPID is an acronym for the different roles each person can hold in the decision-making process. It stands for:

  • Recommend

  • Agree

  • Perform

  • Input

  • Decide

Keep in mind, the order of the acronym doesn’t usually match up with the order for your decision-making process. For example, you’ll want to gather input (I) first for most decisions, even though it’s fourth on the list. The number of people involved in your RAPID will vary as well. On smaller teams, the same person might hold more than one role. In larger organizations, there might be a full tiger team for one role. 

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When to use RAPID

Ironically, the RAPID framework isn’t meant to be a rapid process. Instead, the focus of RAPID is to help you make key decisions thoughtfully and accurately—even if that takes a little longer. That being said, RAPID decisions tend to take less time than a disorganized decision-making process. By clearly assigning roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder, you're communicating exactly what type of feedback stakeholders can (and can't) give. 

RAPID is a thoughtful and constructive process, but it’s not meant for every problem. The process naturally lends itself to more complex issues that require a lot of stakeholder input.

In general, you won’t need RAPID for:

  • Simple problems.

  • Time-sensitive decisions.

  • Decisions that can be made by one person.

Read: 7 important steps in the decision making process

RAPID decision-making vs. RACI charts

Both RAPID and RACI are frameworks to help you determine roles, but they're roles for different scenarios. RACI charts help you determine roles for projects while RAPID roles are typically assigned for important decisions.

  • RACI charts: Used to define project roles in order to clarify decision-making responsibilities within a specific project. They’re a way to generally identify your project team’s roles and responsibilities for any task, milestone, or project deliverable

  • RAPID: Used to define roles for individuals or groups in order to make decisions about complex issues. Often, there are many stakeholders involved and lots of input is needed when you’re using RAPID.

For example, a RACI chart might determine that an engineer is responsible for product development during their day-to-day work lives. Then a RAPID framework can temporarily assign the same engineer to a hiring committee. 

The 5 roles in RAPID decision-making

RAPID roles are assigned to a single person or group of people that handle an organization’s decision-making. One person can have multiple roles, or there might be multiple people in one role. RAPID is meant to be flexible while also providing a structure that prioritizes good decision-making.

This structure is built around the five roles of RAPID:

1. Recommend (R)

The recommender is similar to a team lead because they have a lot of influence over how the process takes place. The recommender role is responsible for the proposal and a lot of the actual work that goes into decision-making. Because of their influence, the recommend role can be filled by an individual or a task force. 

For example, let’s say you’re trying to decide whether or not to update your software. The recommender is responsible for creating a proposal for the new software and coordinating between the other roles to gather relevant information. 

2. Agree (A)

Whoever lands in the agree role has quite a bit of authority. Their job is to help the recommender come to the best possible decision. While all stakeholder’s opinions might be considered during the RAPID decision process, you must consider the agreer’s input in the final decision. You don’t need to assign an agree role for every decision, just the more specialized ones. 

Using the above example, the agreer might be the software developer who shows you the exact code to use for an error-free feature. It’s non-negotiable—if you don’t want bugs in the software, you have to consider the input from your developer.

3. Perform (P)

The perform role is responsible for implementing whatever decision is made. This is the last step of the decision-making process, but you should still assign it in advance. This way the performer is looped in on all the details, which is important with complex processes. By getting the performer lined up before they’re needed, you can move more quickly from ideation to implementation.

Continuing with the example, the performer would likely be the software developer who actually creates your new software. Or it might be the project manager responsible for a development team, who in turn designs the software.

4. Input (I)

While it’s further down in the acronym, the input role is normally the first RAPID role you assign. There are usually multiple people responsible for input, including skilled experts, stakeholders, and those who will be impacted by the decision. The input role’s responsibility is to provide all information and advice to consider throughout the decision-making process. While similar to the agreer, the input role does not have the final say. Instead, they’re merely presenting information.

For example, a project manager might be on the input team and perform different analyses, such as a cost benefit analysis, to help the decider determine if this is a viable project. In this case, a software developer might also be on the input team in order to provide relevant technical information about what would go into creating new software.

5. Decide (D)

The decide role is the person who makes the final decision. In order to make a high-quality decision, they should understand all sides of the story, any trade-offs, and know the impacts that the decision will have on everyone involved. The decider must consider the information and opinions of the agreer, though they don’t necessarily need to share their opinion. 

Closing out our example, the decision maker would likely be from a different team (not software) so they could review all relevant data objectively before deciding whether to create the new software. Note that the decider does not need to be in leadership. In fact, it’s helpful to assign  someone who’s not a team lead or company executive to the decide role to reduce bias in your decision-making.

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Example of RAPID in action

Let’s look at how you might use RAPID in your day-to-day work. For example, let’s say you’re on the team responsible for product pricing. Pricing is a huge decision that impacts revenue, growth, and the inevitable success of your business model. Price products too high, and you can lose customers. But if they’re too low, you’re leaving money on the table.

To find that sweet spot, you can use RAPID to build out a group of people who will use data and alternate perspectives to help you decide how to price your product. Using RAPID in this scenario ensures that different teams, experts, and stakeholders are all part of the decision. On the flip side, if you tried to decide how to price your product without using RAPID, you might end up with an arbitrary number that doesn't maximize profits or, even worse, scares away potential customers.

Benefits of using RAPID

The beauty of using RAPID for decision making is that it involves a variety of stakeholders in critical decisions. Instead of relying solely on the board of directors or your CEO to determine the next course of action, anyone at any level can have a say. 

On top of this, the RAPID framework helps you:

  • Involve more people in decisions that directly impact them. This is a more empowering way to lead than making decisions without your team’s input. 

  • Increase transparency in the decision-making process. If you disagree, you know who to talk to and how to go about making changes.

  • Distribute power in an organization, so it’s not always those at the top who make decisions.

  • Include different perspectives to spot different opportunities or challenges. The more inclusive your RAPID is, the more perspectives (and ultimately, solutions) you’re exposed to.

  • Empower everyone in the organization to make decisions, which can help them feel more ownership over their work, roles, and the entire organization. 

  • Create decision accountability to the accountability across teams and individuals, so everyone feels how they impact company choices.

What to watch out for

RAPID decision making is a useful, powerful tool, but it can be challenging to apply. Like any large-scale change, when you first use RAPID, you might get some pushback. Knowing and planning for these potential challenges in advance can help make the transition easier.

Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Power dynamics. RAPID highlights that certain people might have more power than others, which can cause conflicts. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—sometimes power needs to be redistributed. But it can be uncomfortable. If conflicts arise when you’re implementing RAPID, try practicing conflict resolution strategies that get to the root of the issues and (hopefully) make the team stronger in the end. 

  • Comfortable control. The decider role can be a fun one to hold. Sometimes, people are reluctant to give up that control and hand off decision-making to someone else. Maybe they’re worried that they’re the only ones who can make the right decisions, or maybe they’re just used to holding that position. But in RAPID, it makes more sense to hand decision-making off to those might not normally have it to get less biased results.

  • Too much reliance on leadership. It’s easy to fall back on leaders to make decisions. RAPID encourages you to vary the person who’s in the decide role so it’s not always a C-suite executive or board of directors. But first, you need to break the habit of assuming that leaders are the only ones who can make decisions.

RAPID decisions over rapid results

When you want to decide which shirt to wear, you’re better off closing your eyes and pointing. But when you’re deciding those big-picture questions that will have a long-lasting impact on your business, team, or work, RAPID can help you make a better, higher-quality decision than you might on your own. 

No more silos: Optimizing your organizational structure for stronger cross-team collaboration

In this free ebook, learn how to structure your organization to prevent silos, move faster, and stay aligned in the face of change.

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Complex decision making relies on complex thinking. But organizing those thoughts, data, and inputs should be simple. With Asana, you can collaborate on every high-impact decision, assign RAPID roles, and track the progress as your decisions move through the process—all in one central space.

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