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Improving your decision making process, Part III

Make better important decisions

In Parts I and II of this article, I described how information overload undermines our ability to make important decisions and that prioritizing decisions–combined with an understanding of mental biases–contribute to better results.

Improving subject matter expert/stakeholder feedback

Standard business meetings have a bad reputation. Far too often, they are unfocused, meandering and leave participants feeling frustrated and bored.

By comparison, meetings dedicated to making critical decisions are usually structured with some version of classic brainstorming.
If participants find these crucial meetings boring, you’re in real trouble…

Brain Storming is a long-standing, enjoyable team-based method for creating and sorting through a comprehensive list of possible solutions to a problem. First, members meet and contribute their ideas about an upcoming decision without any initial evaluation/judgment, e.g., determining the theme of a new marketing campaign. Multi-voting and other techniques are then applied to narrow down options to a final, short list. The pros and cons of each can then be carefully evaluated, including any new spin-off ideas, before making a final decision.

“Fixing” brain storming

Recent research supports the benefits of adding another step to this process. After briefing participants with e-documents compiling Subject Matter Expert (SME) and other findings, training specialists now recommended that participants be required to submit 2-3 ideas for the initial list before the meeting. This facilitates the contributions of less assertive members who are less likely to speak up at meetings.

Getting better SME and group feedback

Though participants come to such meetings with the benefit of SME feedback, unfortunately, research shows that such information is usually incomplete, even misleading, because interviews generally lack question/answer uniformity and precision.

I received certification in ‘precision questioning and answering’ several years ago from Vervago, an organization that has trained the nation’s top software, internet retail and other corporations. Their approach has proven effective both in improving the accuracy of SME feedback and employee analytical skills. In my next blog, I’ll provide an introduction into how you can apply some of their techniques–whether you choose to solicit their services or not.

'We're playing musical chairs to choose committee appointments.'


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