The Decision Maker | Dennis W. Bakke

Summary of: The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time
By: Dennis W. Bakke


Envision an organization where employees at all levels can unleash their potential by making important decisions. In ‘The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time’ by Dennis W. Bakke, readers learn about the power of empowering employees to make smart, independent decisions. The book drives home the importance of treating people as creative, innovative, and capable individuals. Through the engaging story of the fictional company, MedTec, we see the transformative impact of spreading decision-making responsibility and trust throughout the organization.

Trusting Employees Unlocks Potential

Organizations that trust their employees unleash incalculable potential. The Harvard Business School invented the case-study learning method, which allows students to make meaningful choices by analyzing over 500 business cases. Managers that reserve all crucial decisions for themselves send a message that they do not trust their employees. Empowering employees to make significant rulings contributes to their professional and personal growth. MBA students worldwide adopt this approach to develop their decision-making capabilities and learn management and commerce efficiently. Leaders who delegate decision-making to their team foster a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Innovative Approaches to Decision-Making

Author Dennis Bakke’s “Treat people like people, not machines” philosophy is presented in a fable illustrating how empowering employees to make decisions can positively impact an organization’s financial results. Bakke believes that decision-making can help develop employees, and his book provides practical guidance on how to build a decision-maker culture. The book also highlights the benefits of spreading decision-making throughout an organization.

The Power of Trust in Decision Making

When the new co-owners of MedTec took over the company, they realized that the “culture of control” was inhibiting its growth and creativity. They decided to change the protocol by trusting and empowering their employees to make important decisions on their own. Tom Anderson communicated this new approach to everyone in the company, sharing a set of new assumptions and the importance of being accountable for choices. He also instructed department heads to designate independent decision makers, leading to a more cohesive and efficient company culture. Trusting employees to make decisions that benefit themselves and the company led to better financial performance.

Seeking Advice

After a faulty polymer led to a significant loss for MedTec, Tom and Jim implemented a new decision-making approach that included seeking advice from experienced individuals. They emphasized that everyone is fallible and added “Advice” to their list of employee qualities. They required decision-makers to seek counsel from at least four people with relevant experience and from individuals above and below their position. Seeking advice became a crucial element of the decision-making process at MedTec.

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