Application of this practical decision-making tool ranges from the tactical to the strategic for decision makers with different perspectives within or between agencies, in the field or at headquarters. It brings objectivity and rigour to the challenge of balancing humanitarian principles with practical choices in increasingly complex operating environments.
A series of questions examine the decision through four lenses – intent, impartiality, independence and impact. If they raise any doubts or serious concerns the decision is then subjected to further interrogation. The final step is implementation, comprising the final decision and action plan to address the issues identified through the process.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
The TEAMWIN Decision-Navigator is the product of combining highly reputed specialist knowledge with the mobilisation methodology pioneered by Beechwood International. Over the years Beechwood has worked in conjunction with many different organisations to accelerate the development and delivery of new processes, systems, methodologies and tools that help to bridge the gap between strategy and action in an increasingly complex and volatile world.
The Beechwood methodology – called TEAMWIN – comprises a number of collaborative tools and innovative concepts, bound by one central idea – the ‘journey metaphor’ – designed to help contextualise, simplify and define the proposed decision in a way that makes sense for all parties involved, and to break down the challenge into manageable steps. Essentially the model depicts the real-world journey as a zig-zag to be navigated between 'co-ordinates'. A creative and disciplined approach is required to clarify where we are, envision where we want to be at certain times in the future, and prioritise the anticipated issues, obstacles and challenges along the way. Participants are then helped to brainstorm potential solutions, make informed choices and agree next actions.
One major issue confronting many aid organisations is how to sustain access to vulnerable people where there are operational or administrative restrictions placed upon them. Even where they may have a long operational presence in an area, teams still need to agree what ‘access’ looks like for them in order to serve the population’s needs once again, identify the key areas requiring attention, and make balanced decisions together.
Ultimately, this will bring aid workers closer to tackling two systemic challenges that the Beechwood practitioners are primarily motivated to address in this sector:
- the most vulnerable not benefiting as much as they could from the aid dollar because of inadequate collaboration and innovation
- the initial investment in a new idea not being sufficiently followed through to realise its potential return on scarce resources.
In situations where the stakes are high and the problems immense, there is no substitute for carefully orchestrated pit-stops that allow people time to think, re- energise, refocus, capture lessons for the future, and celebrate successes. And yet, severe time constraints and other pressures of working inside complex organisations (let alone the issues preventing full collaboration between such entities) get in the way of groups creating the space for such linking of strategy and action. The TEAMWIN Decision-Navigator can enable aid workers very quickly to address important issues by providing such a structure and redressing the tendency for ‘too much reaction and not enough reflection’, which lies at the root of many poor decisions.