Momentive study: The future of business—decentralized decision-making


Momentive study: The future of business—decentralized decision-making

Uncover decision-making trends for knowledge workers and how leaders can empower workers to make bold decisions

Aaron Peterson

September 13, 2022 | 3 min read


Across the enterprise, decision-making is having a moment. The pandemic placed a spotlight on the importance of business agility and now a looming recession has once again put making faster, smarter decisions at the forefront. Today’s complicated and volatile landscape filled with societal, economic, and geopolitical disruptions is ushering in a new era of decentralized decision-making for knowledge workers.      

This new reality left us curious: How are knowledge workers approaching decision-making in today’s fast-changing environment? What are the key challenges and opportunities in front of them? And with unprecedented access to data, what do knowledge workers need to make decisions with confidence?

To find the answers, we asked 7,114 U.S. knowledge workers about the state of decision-making. Here’s what they had to say.

The rise of decentralized decision-making

Our research revealed that knowledge workers are gravitating toward decentralized decision-making. In fact, an overwhelming 90% of knowledge workers believe decentralized decision-making had a more positive impact on their team’s success compared to 71% of workers in a centralized decision-making environment. And more workers in a decentralized decision-making structure felt better suited to adapt during times of disruption versus those workers where decisions are made from the top down (58% compared to 49%).

Knowledge workers gravitate to decentralized decision-making

What’s behind the shift? For starters, companies are seeking increased agility to thrive in the age of uncertainty–but that’s only part of it. Many knowledge workers are now operating in a hybrid work environment where there is increased appetite for autonomy. An overwhelming majority (86%) of knowledge workers say it’s important to have a job where they have decision-making responsibilities. In addition, a study we conducted with 1700 business leaders in May 2022 showed that more leaders are delegating decision-making to team members versus solely making the call (39% compared to 34%).

This confluence of trends has set the stage for the next phase of work: empowering knowledge workers with insights to make faster decisions with confidence. 

Companies are falling behind knowledge workers’ demands for insights

The good news is that companies and knowledge workers want to take a data-driven approach to making decisions. A hefty 77% of knowledge workers say that their organizations are increasingly reliant on data to help inform business decisions. And when it comes to the data-driven vs. gut instinct dilemma, more knowledge workers are using data (76% vs. 21% for gut instinct).

The demand is there, but workers say they lack and need access to insights. Half of knowledge workers say their organization has too much data and too few actionable insights. And 53% believe they don’t always have access to the tools and software needed to make good decisions. While this is impacting all job functions, those in marketing (58%), product (57%), customer service (57%), public relations (56%), and HR (55%) are most likely to say they have too few insights. In our earlier mentioned study of business leaders, nearly half (49%) said they are struggling to create actionable insights from the data they have.

This is troublesome given the fact that our research revealed knowledge workers are making key decisions that impact the business, customers, and employees on a weekly or daily basis. It will be challenging for knowledge workers to be successful in executing on strategic visions and business pivots in this environment. 

On the bright side, most knowledge workers across all industries expect their organization to increase investment in tools and software used for decision-making. 

Investment in tolls and software used for decision-making is expected to rise across all industries

Empowering knowledge workers to make bold decisions with confidence

As knowledge workers embraced uncertainty and pivoted in remarkable ways over the past two years, bold and fast decision-making played a critical role in separating the winners from the losers. Knowledge workers are ready to meet the moment again but need the right tools and faster access to insights. The future of decision-making is here.  Are you ready?

This study was conducted with our integrated market research panel. Want to learn more about market research solutions for your company? Contact us today.


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