Set up a RAPID Decision Making Model

RAPID decision making

The RAPID Decision Making Model is a framework that can help organizations make better decisions. It clarifies who should do what for each complex decision that needs to be made.

The model defines who makes a recommendation, who agrees to a recommendation, who performs the decision, who provides input to a recommendation, and who makes the final decision. It is extremely beneficial when conflicts appear, as this model specifies which person takes what responsibility for the team to land on the final decision.

Treat conflicts as opportunities

RAPID decision making

It forces the team to prioritize within constraints, and deeply understand what is most significant for the company.

Take one of my recent projects as an example: the product we planned to build has the opportunity to be componentized so that other teams can easily leverage it in the future. However, for componentization, the development timeline takes longer, which can push off the launch date. There is a tradeoff between the short-term timeline and long-term efficiency. Thinking through what benefits the company most, we’ve chosen the latter. Easy as it may sound, it took us a long time to come to this decision. Tons of discussions happened to think through all the pros & cons, to balance between risks and opportunities.

Conflicts can slow down decision making, but the right decision eventually speeds up the process.

Involve the right people at the right time

RAPID decision making

It is essential to keep everyone on the same page, but we also need to be mindful of whom to involve in different phases.

As a designer, when a new project is initiated, the product manager is my person to understand the landscape and vision. At the early stage of the design process, I spend most of my time with the user researcher to understand user pain points. If there is any data available to provide insights, the data scientist is someone I would reach out to. When it comes to design explorations, I always make sure the product manager and engineers are included in main design reviews, since their input will impact the final direction. While handing off the design to engineers, it is crucial to sit with them going through details, as they would need to understand different use cases, flows, visuals, as well as interactions.

Involving the right people at the right time increases team efficiency and keeps the conversation focused.

Communicate differently based on your audience

RAPID decision making

To avoid it, communicate wisely based on who your audience is.

When you are pitching your design to the leadership team, be clear on the core message you want to deliver and prioritize what to show to get their buy-in. Don’t waste time on tiny details, which can distract their attention. However, when explaining your final design to engineers, details become the key. Make sure you’ve thought through every piece so that they understand what exactly to build.

Besides proactive communication, it is also useful to share what you are working on “passively”.

One of the methods is having a centralized place to host your files and present them in a way that is easy to scan through, which reduces the unnecessary communication regarding “where to find your latest design”.

Build a strong team with design superpower

RAPID decision making

Design is a visual language that everybody understands and can resonate with, which makes it a bridge connecting different functions. What we’ve learned through the design process can be totally leveraged to build a strong team.


Illustrations in this article are created by Vicky Gao.