How to Hold a Decision-Making Meeting

Decision-making meetings work best when they’re preceded by behind-the-scenes prep work. Here’s how to make your decision-making meetings go smoothly.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #262

Know Each Person’s Position and Interest

The underlying interest is why someone holds their position in the first place. You can find the interest behind a position by asking, “What will you get by taking that position?”

I ask Europa, “What will we get by investing in a CD?” She argues that a CD will give us safety. We’ll preserve capital, which we can use to buy food if society collapses. If society doesn’t collapse, we can collect interest and grow the money as a hedge against other disasters. Plus, she say we’ll be, er, well-positioned for world domination. If necessary.

I ask Melvin, “What will we get by building a new greenhouse?” He says we can expand inventory and offer a greater variety of plants. His intern Aurora points out that ivy-covered trellises will be a big seller. There’s nothing like a nice, long nap in the shade of the ivy. Also, he points out, ivy is good for camouflage if we ever need to be well-positioned for world domination.

When I ask Bernice what we get by donating to bunny charities, her interests become clear: She likes bunnies and thinks the world should have more of them. Right as my hand touches the door to leave, her voice carries over my shoulder, “I’m not stupid Stever. Bunnies eat lettuce. More bunnies equals bigger market for lettuce, which equals more business for us. Bunnies are the path to world domination.”

Start from the Overlap

We now have enough information for a highly productive meeting. Though there’s no overlap in our positions, we can all value the interests behind our positions: cash flow flexibility, expanding our supply of product to meet demand, growing that demand as much as possible, and being prepared for world domination.

Start the discussion by listing interests on the whiteboard.

We’ll start the discussion by listing those interests on the whiteboard. I’ll put an asterisk by “world domination” to show it’s already a point of agreement. Then we’ll all discuss the interests on the board and get agreement on which ones are important to us as a group. Shared goals make us bond as a group. Then we can choose a plan of action that meets our collective interests.


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.