Make Your Decisions Go Better

(This article was first published in our August, 2007 newsletter.)

We all make decisions everyday and many of us have several meetings a week that we either facilitate or participate in where decisions need to be made. This month’s facilitator café (see left side bar) will speak more about this but for those who are not able to make it, here are some tips. You can also purchase our handouts online just after August 17th or any of our 30+ past café handouts by visiting the café handouts section of the website. Click here to view samples of the café handouts.

Recently, I was certified in a system called OneSmartWorld and a portion of the system is dedicated to making smart decisions. According to the founder of the OneSmartWorld system, Bob Wiele, there are six strategies for making decisions and each of us have a preference for using some strategies more than others. Some of these include making decisions based on past experiences, striving to validate a decision with external factual data, making decisions based on our value system or by trusting our “gut”. When you realize that in any given room full of people there are at least six ways for different people to be making their decision, it can be frustrating. This is what Sam Kaner and several co-authors refer to as the “groan zone“of decision-making. Viewing it in more positive language, it can be viewed in the OneSmartWorld system as clarifying understanding, deepening motivation and tuning in to other viewpoints and ways of doing things.

Here are some things we’ve adapted for groups around decision-making from Bob Wiele’s “Smart for Life” course which we’ll be offering again in January 2008. You can use this as a four part checklist to consider processes to use to help a group make a decision:

Decision-Making: Quality Assurance Check

  • The Divergent Zone: Creative Options
  1. Do we have a least 5 options to choose from?
  2. What are the opportunities in the problem?
  3. How can we challenge existing assumptions?
  4. What is our shared picture of the desired future?
  5. What flashes of insight do we have around this decision?
  • The Groan Zone or Building Understanding Around the Situations and the Affected People
  1. What sources of information are available to us on this situation?
  2. How can we organize the information systematically to help us better understand?
  3. How have we explored for sufficient clarity on the situation?
  4. What are some more ways we can listen to other people’s thoughts and feelings?
  • Getting to Convergence and the Decision
  1. What is the crux of the real issue?
  2. How can we provide solid proof?
  3. What reliable past experiences can we draw on?
  4. What are our values and beliefs in this situation that we want to draw on?
  5. What gut instincts might guide us?
  • What Will Keep Up Personal and Group Spirit in the Implementation of the Decision?
  1. What will ensure positive, constructive approaches?
  2. How have we each accepted sufficient responsibility and control for the outcome?
  3. How can we demonstrate the level of initiative and courage needed to go through with this decision?