It’s commonly accepted that commitment to action starts with involvement. So why do many business leaders limit involvement in the development of strategies and in making the key decisions facing their organisations?

The answer, I believe, is that there is a fear among many managers that involvement will reduce pace and make it harder to face into difficult decisions and issues.

Personally, I have found in my work with organisations of different shapes and sizes that these downsides are more illusory than real.

For example, I worked with Jeremy Ling, the CEO of Bristan, the UK’s leading taps (faucets to my friends in the US!) and showers manufacturer, to involve his entire leadership team – 40 top managers! – in the development of a new company strategy and business plan.

So, did involvement inhibit pace? The simple answer is “No!” In less than a month, we co-developed a strategy that was ambitious, robust, signed-off and being delivered in the line. In my experience this level of pace was 3-6 times faster than that which organizations typically achieve.

And what about involvement inhibiting the big decisions? Again, this simply didn’t happen. In fact we found that, even in our initial two-day session with the 40 managers, the group started to take some big decisions and face into some issues that even the executive team had found both emotionally and strategically difficult to resolve.

As Jeremy noted in my book, The CEO’s Strategy Handbook, “I have learnt that middle managers are very willing and able to face into our company’s biggest and most challenging issues, and they came up with creative and value added solutions that challenged the thinking of our executive team.

What’s your experience? Have you seen pace increase or reduce as a result of greater involvement, and has involvement inhibited or increased your ability to focus on the ‘big’ issues facing your business?

© Stuart Cross 2012. All rights reserved.