How to Run a Decision-Making Meeting

Decision-making meetings have the potential to become minor wars. By considering elements in the right order, you'll make your decisions much more smoothly.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #287

Meetings, I just love meetings!

No...I don't. I hate meetings. One of my clients was lamenting that decision-making meetings take forever. They’re the worst. Everyone has a favorite point of view and won’t budge. I’ve recently discussed preparing for decision-making meetings by using behind-the-scenes negotiations.

But you also need strategies to run the meeting itself. Doing the right things in the right order will save lots of time, heartache, and cleaning expenses. It’s not cheap to get blood stains out of the carpet.

Bernice’s plant store, Green Growing Things, is doing so well that she wants to expand. But Bernice, Europa, and Melvin held can’t agree on the next location. Tackling the decision in order will help them reach a decision quickly.0

Start with Goals

Two paths diverged in the woods. One goes to Heck, the other goes to Nirvana. The roads lead to different destinations and they offer different journeys. The road to Heck is paved with good intentions, while the road to Nirvana smells like teen spirit. With no goal in mind, either road will do. You can just flip a coin. But the reason you’re making a decision is because you either care about where you’ll end up, or you care about the journey to get there. Otherwise, you’d just flip a coin.

You’re in a decision-making meeting because you each have a goal. First agree on the goals. Otherwise, no other part of decision-making will even make sense.

Bernice's goal is a lifestyle business that’s fun to run and makes a decent living. Europa's goal is complete and utter economic domination of the Western world. Leaving these goals unstated keeps the discussion going in circles. By stating and discussing their individual goals, all parties can eventually agree on the main goal. Europa came around to Bernice's point of view and the goal became a fun, lifestyle business. As Bernice later explained it, "It's good to be the majority shareholder.”

Agree on Framing

You have your goal, now frame the specific decision. Framing is deciding how to express the decision. The goal is a lifestyle business. The decision is about location. We could frame it several ways:

  • Where can we locate a store to build a community of plant lovers?
  • Where can we sell the largest number of plants?
  • Where can we best serve customers?

How we frame the decision determines the options we’ll consider. "Where can we locate a store?" sends us out to analyze neighborhoods and rents. "Where can we sell the largest number of plants?" sends us to look at different distribution channels, one of which might be retail stores. "Where can we best serve customers?" sends us looking at customer wants. The group decided that for a lifestyle business, a retail store with an in-person community is best. So they agreed to ask, “Where can we locate the store to build a community?”


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.