Decisions fuel momentum and progress.  If your culture is impacted by chronically slow decision making, paralysis of choosing the “right option,” and/or “death by meeting,” may I recommend the following 12 decision-making questions to ask BEFORE you call a meeting:

  1. Is there a decision to be made? (If not, don’t have a meeting*)
    *Exception:  If you need to create an implementation plan or address conflict
  2. Can this be decided with one other person?  (If yes, one-on-one meeting)
  3. Who must be involved? (vs. wants to or would be nice to include)
  4. Who in leadership must be involved, if anyone?
  5. Is this decision more important than following through on our current commitments?
  6. What is the decision that needs to be made?  (clearly define)
  7. What type of decision needs to be made – yes/no or choosing best option?
  8. What criteria/boundaries does the decision need to take into consideration?  (budget, deadline, people-power available, customer criteria)
  9. Which of these criteria are perceived as non-negotiable vs. like-to-have?
  10. Who is responsible for making the decision?  What type of decision making is being used?:
    • Authoritative – I’m making the decision**
    • Collaborative – I’m looking for help to think this through, but I will ultimately make the decision – (make sure to clarify who is the “I” here)
    • Democratic – We’ll put this to a vote, and the solution with the most votes wins
    • Consensus – We all have to agree (use sparingly – excellent for garnering buy-in however very process/time intensive)
    • Delegate – You decide without me**
      **does not require a meeting
  11. How urgent is the decision – important/urgent quadrant (deadline?)
  12. What is the decision deadline?

Make sure to capture, share and file meeting highlights:

  • Who was at the meeting?
  • What decision was made?
  • Who made the decision?
  • What were the criteria?
  • What other options were on the table?
  • What are the action items (what, who, timeline)?
  • Who is the champion for tracking/insuring follow-through?

Define when it’s acceptable to reopen a decision:

  • Reopen if there is important new information – customer, cost, safety
  • If the decision has proven not to work
  • Mission critical to change course (rather than preference)
  • To reopen a decision, all key stakeholders need to be together again (original group–avoid bifurcation)

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