Are approvals driving you nuts?

How to run the review process so it doesn’t run you

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Gilbert Cranberg, Columbia Journalism Review


When I worked at one company, I once had to have—no lie —100 people review and approve an article I’d written for our employee annual report. (Lest you wonder, this was not the story where we revealed that the company was producing nuclear arms for sale to Iraq.) Needless to say, it took much longer for me to run the approval process on that story than to research, write and edit the piece in the first place.

I’m not alone.

Still, I wouldn’t want to live without an approval process. (I, for one, never want to spend a day giving a deposition because of something I wrote in a press release.)

So the goal isn’t to do away with the approval process. The goal is to come up with an approval process that does the job without driving you nuts. The long-term way to do that is to take back the approval process. That’s an approach that takes more than a single article to describe.

But, short term, here are three steps you can implement tomorrow for developing a process that works:

1. Rename it. Why do we call it an approval process? “Approval process” suggests that we’re asking for approval—for permission, consent, authorization, say-so.

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