When I’m looking at a process, it often seems like there’s more than one way to approach aproblem – without a clear-cut “right” or “best” solution.One of the issues that seems to be a frequent”let’s-flip-a-coin issue”is centralization vs decentralization, specifically related to decision-making.

In some projects, a particular process has been decentralized – the rationale is remaining close to the customer, using just-in-time deliveries, allowing for the uniqueness of a variety of environments (geographic, cultural, or what have you). Local sites may come up with different solutions for the same problem. When we go in to facilitate a project, often we hear the project team and/or leaders call for “standardization across sites,” “accountability,” and “reduction in over-processing waste” meaning centralization of authority for processes and changes.

In other projects, a particular project has been subject to a central authority – the rationale is to maintain standard work andaccountability. Local sitesmay nothave the flexibility to address unique customer issues. When we go in to facilitate a project, often we hear the project team and/or leaderscall for “delivering on CTQs that vary with our customer base,” “reducing hand-offs and unnecessary approvals” and “agility” meaning decentralization of decision-making.

It seems that both sides have good arguments. I’ve tried to get teams to consider the “think globally, act locally” concept but have run into opposition from both sides.

Would anyone care to share his or her experiences on either side of this coin?

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