Are You Facing a Scarcity of Decision-making?


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How often have you attended a meeting — or worse, a number of meetings — without any concrete decisions being made or action steps agreed?

Too often the team just seems to be going in circles.

This form of indecisiveness — or paralysis by analysis — plagues many organizations. In fact, some people actually use this as a strategy to avoid being held accountable for the success or failure of any initiative.

This lack of decision-making hurts organizations financially because issues and opportunities are not addressed and it creates a sense of powerlessness with the team members who recognize that nothing is happening. It effectively creates an under-performance malaise that affects the financial goals of the organization and the engagement of the team.

Years ago I worked with a leader who was faced with a team that was unable or unwilling to make a decision. He decided that going forward they would make a decision and then be prepared to adjust that decision if it wasn’t the right one. He felt that they could make a decision; find out it wasn’t the ideal decision and then make a new decision based the new input — faster than they were currently making any decision.

This approach introduced nimbleness to the organization and also sent a signal that people would not be criticized for making a wrong decision. Both excellent messages for any organization.

Here are some tips if you are faced with indecision in your organization

  • Ensure people feel safe when making decisions. Of course, decisions need to be made based on good information and thoughtful consideration, but if a decision turns out wrong based on the best use of information at the time, then people should feel safe from criticism.
  • Use decisive language in your communication. Confidence and clarity in language sets a tone. Give people honest feedback and discourage indecisiveness. Be clear when providing direction and expect the same from others.
  • Ask for opinions and then ensure the opinion is valued — even if everyone doesn’t agree.
  • If a decision needs to be delayed, make sure there is a specific reason (i.e. additional information is needed) and establish a time-line to re-group with responsibilities identified to gather the missing information.
  • Make sure every meeting ends with a summary of decisions and next steps. Every discussion point should have a concluding next step.
  • Ensure each next step has clear accountability on time-lines and responsibilities.
  • Follow up to ensure that next steps are being executed; offer support where needed to get the task concluded.
  • Solicit feedback to ensure that the decision continues to make sense. This isn’t second-guessing, it’s simply monitoring outcomes. Don’t be afraid to re-visit a decision if the facts change. Sticking with a bad decision is as bad as making no decision at all.

My Perspective: Sometimes I like to say “I never change my mind.” The statement is intended to cause people to pause and think about what I said.

I then add that if presented with additional facts, I haven’t actually changed my mind — but made a new decision.

Good decision-making is evaluating all available facts and then having the courage to make a decision to take action. In some cases, that decision might be to take no action for a specified period, because you need more information — but it needs to be intentional, not by default.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Hogg
Bill Hogg works with senior leaders to inspire and develop high performance, customer-focused teams that deliver exceptional customer service, higher productivity and improved profits. Sought after internationally as a speaker and consultant, Bill is recognized as the Performance Excelerator because of his uncanny ability to create profound change and deliver extraordinary results with the most demanding organizations.


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