Not enough attention is given to one of the most important aspects of business planning. Too often planning sessions and business meetings are focused on what to decide. Rarely is attention given to how to decide.

For example, if sales take a dip, the team will assemble to figure out what to do. Spend more on advertising? Change the website? Work on a new product? Give sales incentives?

These are all topics worthy of discussion. But how will a decision be made? Group consensus? Why? Consensus without a well-grounded team will lead to poor, sluggish decisions. Some people will push for whatever brings personal credit. Some will side with what they think the boss wants. Some will just ‘go along to get along’. Some will assert their own opinion to the point of stifling others. Are any of these valuable to making an important, maybe critical decision? No.

For a group to make good decisions, it is very important to remove the above-mentioned contaminants to quality thinking. If we want to arrive at the best possible decision, we must decide how to decide first.


  • Decide who will participate in the decision
  • Define the objective clearly
  • Get outside input
  • Drop status and hierarchy during meetings: All are free to speak without reproach
  • Encourage all ideas and options
  • Exchange Pro/Con roles during discussion
  • Consider more than one scenario
  • Define what the team thinks the business climate will be in a year, two and as far ahead as practical or necessary
  • Test decision scenarios against the defined objective: Are you still on the same target?

This stuff isn’t easy to develop but certainly worth the effort.

Work on how to decide and you’ll get far better decisions.

Chris Reich