In The Trenches

How to make better decisions

Published on November 25, 2014 Back to blog

Over the last few years, my family has devised a very interesting decision-making system. (Actually, my daughter was the genius behind the process.) For almost every family decision (i.e., where to eat for dinner, what movie to watch, etc.), we vote. However, each vote is worth a different number of points:

– Josh (the youngest child): 1 point
– Julia (the oldest child): 1.5 points
– Me (the younger adult): 2 points
– My wife, Jane (the oldest adult): 2.5 points

This system clearly has some flaws (most notably, my wife only loses if everyone else is against her). But it also has lots of merit:

1. Everyone in the family has some say in the decision.
2. It forces us to have a discussion about the pros and cons of each option.
3. The kids abide by it (without crying when they don’t get what they want).
4. My wife and I still hold all power (it’s not really a democracy).
5. It recognizes that my wife is slightly older than me (my only consolation in having a slightly lower point value).

This type of “point system” would probably not work very well in most business environments, and I’m not about to start assigning point values to everyone at Small Army. However, it does highlight the importance of including key stakeholders in major decisions:

1. Everyone wants to be heard
The people who most strongly oppose decisions are often those who were not involved in making them. Many times, it’s not even that they disagree, they are just frustrated because they don’t feel like they had a say. So, whenever possible, give people a chance to be heard. This is true for adults just as much (if not more) than it is with kids.

2. Two heads are better than one
When everyone clearly understands the challenge, we tend to find better solutions. Everyone brings a different perspective, and by listening to each, we can often discover new and better solutions that were not previously considered.

3. There is better appreciation for the decision/solution
Even when things don’t go your way, you can better appreciate a decision when you understand how it was made. This is especially important, as those involved with key decisions are often the same people who need to communicate (positively) those decisions to others in the organization.

So, regardless of how decisions are made within your organization, be sure to take the time to pose the challenge to other stakeholders who may be impacted by it. You’ll not only identify better decisions/solutions, but also find you’ll achieve greater acceptance of them. Alternatively, if you’re interested in devising a point system like the one we have at my house, my 10-year old daughter can be available for consulting.

Have a great day!

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners