The no surprises standard is a mindset anyone can have that allows a person to balance individual decision making to move an organization forward while keeping connected to other stakeholders within the organization. Stakeholders can be anyone that a decision might affect. The situation one should try to avoid is making a decision that surprises those affected. Nobody likes surprises.
Of course, there is no one right way to communicate throughout an organization but it is important to understand how information or lack thereof affects people. Often, ownership of getting something done should be held by the party closest to the task. A simple check in with co-workers can have a large positive impact in gaining buy-in from teammates. Buy-in is important because it makes change or action easier to complete.
Take for example a partnership where a company is owned by two individuals. It likely would be bad if one owner, who tracks company activities through the accounting system, purchased expensive software without checking-in with the other owner. Spending the company’s money without consent is most likely to surprise and frustrate when it really could be an opportunity to share intentions, collect feedback, and reinforce integrity in a relationship. The owner wanting to purchase software might approach his partner in a manner something like this:
“We have been talking about how to make more money and simplify our lives. I believe the new accounting system will do just that by reducing the number of redundant tasks needed from accounting and I could use the time saved to analyze market opportunities which would become leads for our sales team. If it works like it should, the growth in sales will pay for the accounting system over the next 18 months. I plan to move forward but want to know your thoughts before I take any action.”
Sometimes making a decision, informing others of why the action makes sense and being open to feedback is all a person needs to do. It is about respect.