Chapter 9: Structuring and Using Robust Decision-Making Practices

Chapter Summary

This chapter presents a robust decision-making process that seeks to enhance the likelihood of arriving at optimal solutions and avoiding unwise decisions. This is a critical characteristic of effective leaders.

Thoughtful leaders consider several issues before embarking on decision-making: 1) They begin by identifying the major types of meetings held in the organization, making a distinction between meetings that provide updates, share information, make decisions and provide continuous improvement ideas; 2) They select a team composed of a diverse group, but one that shares compatible perspectives, insights, and styles; 3) They craft meeting management rules that will guide discussion, such as always having a meeting agenda and limiting social time to the first few minutes of the meeting; 4) They incorporate a “plus delta” conversation at the end of every meeting, so they can routinize positive sharing and improvement practices, and 5) They measure the quality of their decision-making against the values of the organization.

The Robust Decision-Making Model makes a clear distinction between identifying problems and solving problems. The identification phase is when decision-makers seek to identify the core problems or issues. They do so by gathering information, analyzing it, and identifying the essence of the challenge. The resolution phase is when decision-makers decide what to do about the problem or challenge on both a strategic and a tactical level. They do so by gathering possible solutions, analyzing them and finally, selecting the optimal solution and path forward.

To optimize the process, effective leaders engage in several behind-the-scenes strategies, such as encouraging iterative rather than linear thinking, and downplaying the status and roles of decision-makers.


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Flash Cards


Question #1: Andy Grove

Question #2: Your author refers to managing the desire to continuously improve what you are doing with seeking out completely new ways of doing things as the exploring versus refining decision- making tension.

Question #3: These meeting costs include the time needed to schedule meetings, get everyone educated about the issues, and reach a consensus.

Question #4: Your author suggests that the ideal decision-making team

Question #5: Plus delta refers to:

Question #6: When time for decision-making is limited, it’s best to skip the identification phase and focus on the resolution phase.

Question #7: Collecting and analyzing information and insights, followed by distilling the insights to their essence are steps associated with the

Question #8: Your author recommends that after the core issues have been identified, you should begin by generating as many potential solutions as possible, the crazier the idea, the better.

Question #9: Successful decision-makers cycle back and forth between steps, using a more fluid, back- and-forth process to reach a decision. This is referred to as:

Question #10: The series of interactions through which groups manage working together versus working individually to arrive at a working creative solution is known as:

Question #11: A “parking garage”

Question #12: Your author suggests that if a meeting veers off topic, ringing a bell or tapping a mug is preferred to verbal admonitions.

Question #13: Your author recommends downplaying the status and roles of decision-makers by using tactics such as writing ideas on a flip chart and holding meetings in a neutral location.

Question #14: Seeking out information that conforms to our preexisting ideas, prejudices, and points of view is known as what common thinking bias?

Question #15: To supercharge the critical thinking skills of your decision-making team, your author’s alter ego, Dr. So What, suggests asking all of the following questions except: