Many organizations have standard policies that accompany certain types of decisions. They may require several signoffs, plenty of paperwork, a board meeting, etc.
These policies often serve a useful purpose, but is the policy the same for decisions that are above the waterline as they are for those below?
The waterline is a great metaphor pointed to by Jim Collins, coined by Bill Gore:
Consider that all failed decisions blow holes in the side of your ship.
All holes are bad of course, but if they’re above the waterline, you can patch up the side of the ship and get back to work.
On the other hand, holes below the waterline can mean catastrophe.
A policy that treats an above-the-waterline decision, with the same level of scrutiny and caution as a below-the-waterline decision probably isn’t a very good policy.