Is It Time to Introduce Methodical Decision-​making into Your Meetings?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Do you usually come out of your team meetings shaking your head? Maybe you’re wondering why nothing got achieved or resolved in the 60 minutes you spent locked in the conference room. The good news is that you are not alone in your frustration. The better news is that Al Pittampalli has suggestions about how you can improve your meeting outcomes.

The Problem With Intuition

When individuals solve a problem or seek an answer to a question, they may not go about the process in an orderly or logical format. Often, they’ll make a decision intuitively and move on, writes Pittampalli. 

An organizational meeting consisting of multiple employees, from either one or several departments, poses an entirely different kind of challenge. Now, you’re faced with individuals who have their own ways of solving problems. Some employees will suggest their pet solutions before they hear all the alternatives. Other people want to complain about why their original product proposal from 'way back when' was never considered. The conversation jumps from one person to another. Before you know it, the meeting time runs out, and you don’t have a solution: You have frustration.

The Magic of Methodical Decision-Making

Employing a methodical system to solve a problem during a meeting leads to better outcomes. If a big client threatens to cancel an important contract, for example, you have a problem. Your first step is to call a meeting to discuss what to do. Before your team members start complaining about the client, and coming up with proposed solutions, such as a price cut, set out your plan for methodical decision-​making. Write it on the conference room whiteboard to reinforce your new strategy.

The threat to cancel a contract is certainly a problem, but you need to understand why the client is taking this action. Does a competitor have a new feature the client wants? Has your customer service been less than stellar? Once you agree on the cause of the problem, you can move on to proposed solutions. To stay on track with your meeting agenda, set a time limit for discussing solutions. You might also want to pick only two or three solutions to discuss. Using this style of decision-​making will lead you to a course of action by the end of a meeting. 

Some team members may complain that being boxed into methodical thinking crimps their creativity. That may be true. In that case, consider asking your team members to brainstorm, individually or together, for new ideas in advance of the formal meeting. But hold firm on the methodical process needed to secure a decision and a plan of action.