Take Your Decision Making Out of the Dark Ages

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been exploring the idea of making decision making easier.  If there’s one place where decisions need to be easier — it’s in the midst of a meeting.  Even with all our technology and ability to generate more data than anyone can process in ten lifetimes — our meetings and the decisions that are made in them (or outside them) are still in the Dark Ages; where the biggest title or ego wins.iStock_000009368961XSmall

Here at QuestionPro, we think that decision making can be faster, easier and a lot more fun.  Here is a decision-making process that will help your meetings go faster and be a lot more productive.

Where two or more are gathered — time is wasted

I guess you can say that I’m not a huge fan of meetings — I am a fan of collaborating, working together and moving projects forward.  But most of the meetings I get invited to are huge time wasters.

I’ve noticed that even with agendas and objectives — we still waste time!  One of the biggest time wasters is the fact that people simply don’t have enough information to make the decisions that are at hand.

How to structure your meeting for optimum decision making

There is a five step process for making great decisions in a meeting:

  1. Tell it like it is:  Identify the burning issue that is pulling all of you together into the room.  Make sure that this burning issue is grounded in reality and not some kind of corporate speak.  For example: Our competitor has just launched a copy-cat product and is stealing our market share.  We’re losing $1,000 a minute and if we don’t come up with a new marketing strategy, we’re out of business.  That pretty much lays out the purpose of the meeting in real language everyone can understand.
  2. Lay out the story: This opening statement should have everyone in the room thinking “WHAT?!  How can you say that?!”  And this is the purpose for this next section of the meeting — the story behind the statement.  This is where you pull out all the data you’ve collected.  Use your charts and surveys to guide your audience in their thinking.
  3. What’s the idea:  As the meeting organizer, you’ve either got an idea up your sleeve that you want to present or you can use this opportunity to collect ideas from the group.   Your objective during this stage of the meeting is to come up with a winning solution.
  4. What’s the next action to take:  This is critical.  Most people get stuck in a loop arguing one thing over another thing.  The leader of the meeting (you) should have a proposed action.  It’s fine to give everyone a say, but you are controlling the meeting and you decide on the action.  You can choose something the group has come up with or you can go  your own way.  Either way – get to the point and decide on the action.
  5. What’s the benefit:  Don’t leave the meeting without outlining what the benefit of the action is to the group (both individually and professionally).

I have a love/hate relationship with this process.  On the one hand, there is a tremendous amount of work upfront in getting ready for the meeting; outlining the agenda, pulling your data together and creating information from it.  But the payoff is in how productive your meeting turns out to be.  It will be shorter and more powerful.  You will be a star!

Speaking of Stars — Join our Tweet Chat Tonight!

Ready to put your two cents into our decision making discussion?  We’re running a Tweet Chat today at 8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT.  Join us by logging into Twubs and following #QPChat.

Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers and the President of Third Force, a strategic marketing firm. She's the marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a frequent contributor to AMEX Open Forum.

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