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Not Making a Decision Is Making a Decision

JW Way Fundamental #25: Candidly discuss, then align  “Healthy, respectful discussion creates better solutions. Discuss concepts without personal attacks. Check your ego and search for the best solution rather than proving you are right. Once a decision is made, be fully aligned and completely supportive of it. “

Groups frequently make decisions.  Even not making a decision is making a decision.  Many decisions are minor, while others have major consequences.  And all of us make decisions all the time. 

This fundamental covers the before, during, and after of making decisions.  Some decisions are made by one person while others are made by a group of people.  For litigators it includes the strategy on a case – what goes into a pleading and what is excluded.  For an assistant it includes the best way to approach a project.  This is the during part of decisions and when discussion happens.  Various and diverse opinions are heard and may even be debated.  Respectful discourse is held.  And a decision is made, even if it is to table further discussions.

The impact of this fundamental is after the decision is made.  There are several business terms that are used to describe what happens next- “taking a second bite at the apple,” “negotiating after the close” and the most infamous “meeting after the meeting.”  To gauge how widespread the meeting after the meeting is, there are podcasts, videos, seminars, workshops, articles and even satire in both movies and television shows that address it.  Clearly, it exists!

Undermining, damaging, dysfunctional. Those are all words associated with meeting after the meeting unless it is supportive of the decision that was made.  All of us, at one time or another, have not had our ideas, strategy or concepts chosen. However, the time for vigorous debate is when discussions are held.  Once a decision is made or a strategy adopted, then additional discourse, especially if it is not with the original group that made the decision, is harmful. And if circumstances change, then strategy may be revisited, and the process may start again.    While sometimes very hard to do, supporting a decision is what healthy teams and organizations do.

About the Author: Brenda Edwards is the Executive Director of Jaburg Wilk where she is responsible for operations of the firm. She is a frequent author on management topics. 


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