Making Plans with a Group? Play Dictator

When you're making plans with a group, it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page. Get-It-Done Guy shares his strategy for taking charge of group plans.

Stever Robbins
2-minute read

Group PlansIt's long been observed that for every individual you add to a group, the overall IQ of the group drops. When I'm at conferences, for example, I love to meet new people and head out for group dinners where we all eat, drink, get to know each other, and take pictures that could someday be used for blackmail. But the hard part is getting twelve individuals to show up at dinner time, and then choose a place to eat. "What kind of food do you want?" "Where shall we go?" "Walk or drive?" "I don't care." "Well, what do you want?" You can end up spending hours trying to figure everything out. Fortunately, I've mastered the process of the group dinner.

The problem is that humans are basically primates. Primates have social hierarchies, and if you get a bunch of beta primates together, they'll wander around looking lost until an alpha comes to take charge. You must choose to be that alpha.

First, decide where you're going to eat. Choose someplace that has vegetarian options if you plan to invite any known vegetarians. Or choose a place that doesn't, and have a backup ready to go in case anyone objects. Call ahead and make sure the restaurant will do separate checks. If not, choose a different restaurant. Tell the group, "We'll meet in the lobby at 7:30 pm and leave promptly a 7:45 pm. We are going to Sporkie's Cafeteria and Crepe Shoppe. It's only two blocks away, so we'll walk." Then leave promptly at 7:45 pm, and when you arrive, assume no one else is coming.

It's really that easy. When you arrive, tell the waitress or waiter when you are seated that you'll want separate checks. And then, simply enjoy dinner. No messy decision making, no messy dividing of the bills. You took charge and made the decisions. The restaurant handled dividing the bill, and they knew in advance that they would. You and your companions can spend the evening socializing over fine food, rather than socializing over mutual indecision.

Young people eating dinner image courtesy of Shutterstock

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.