On Monday, while teaching an executive leadership program, an executive made a terrific observation. He said, "Often, it seems that the rigor and depth of our analysis is inversely to the importance of the decision." He meant that the finance organization seemed to scrutinize investment proposals by lower level managers quite extensively. Yet, when the CEO or a member of the top team wanted to make an acquisition or embark on some other major investment initiative, the proposal often received less scrutiny. I was taken aback, because that observation rings true given my experience with many organizations from across a range of industries.
Why does that happen in organizations? In many cases, lots of analysis does take place on the proposals put forth by senior executives, but those initiatives are essentially fait accompli. The analysis cannot stop the deal from moving forward. It may even simply be rationalizing decisions that have already been made. Meanwhile, for lower level managers, their proposals get put through the ringer, because they don't yet have the senior level sponsorship.