The value of designing decision-making processes

12 February 2018

[Sebastían Jarrín was a part of the OTT 2017 Fellowship Programme, where young leaders joined to develop and implement a leadership development programme by devising their own development plans and sharing challenges and ways to address these]

In the last decade, we have seen a growth in the role civil society organisations and think tanks play in the development of public policies. This growth has brought new challenges to these organisations. Some of these challenges relate to the particularities of individual countries, regions or political regimes. Other challenges, like sustainability, are shared across think tanks working in different contexts.

Having clear decision-making processes can help these organisations to better address some of these challenges. Although designing and implementing these processes is a complex process in itself, they are key to the organisation’s success. Decisions affect a think tank’s image with key stakeholders, especially in complex political contexts.

During my time working at Grupo FARO, an Ecuadorian think tank, I had the opportunity to become a part of the OTT Fellowship Programme. The Fellowship programme works individually with each Fellow’s plans and goals, in an effort to strength our professional and personal competences. It also gives us the opportunity to work with colleagues from other think tanks around the world who face similar challenges in their daily work.

Decision-making processes were always a challenge for me, both in my personal and professional lives. I used to spend a lot of time deliberating before making a decision, and procrastinated when I had to make complicated decisions. The lack of a plan or method often led to delays in making decisions. To top this off, I would avoid deciding on matter which involved important changes in my professional and personal lives.

As a Fellow, I was able to improve my decision-making processes. The mentoring sessions provided me with new resources and provided guidance on the different tools available to construct my leadership development plan. These tools and resources helped me improve my approach to decision-making. I can now manage uncertainty and weigh the positive and negative aspects of my choices. Tools like decision trees and cause and effect diagrams have increased my ability to make complex decisions in a short time. Being able to recognize and organize the variables in my options has reduced the stress I used to feel when I had to make important decisions.

Working with other Fellows helped me understand the challenges we face in think tanks, and how similar these are across varying contexts. Overcoming some of these challenges demands creativity and inventiveness from their leaders. Furthermore, the Fellowship gave me the opportunity to work on my communication and advocacy skills.

I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policies and global affairs at the University of British Columbia. After completing my master’s degree, I plan to continue my work informing public policy from civil society organisations. I am sure the skills I learned as a Fellow will continue to influence my professional development.