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How to Speed Up a Slow Decision-Making Process

A reader of this morning’s post asks, “How do you suggest dealing with an organizational culture that resists making decisions?”

Don’t pressure people to make decisions before they’re ready. They tend to dig in rather than speed up.

Adopt a decision-making plan:

  1. Determine on a scale of 1 – 10 how important the decision is. “1” – the decision has little impact. 10 – if you get the decision wrong, the barn will burn down. Commit to taking more time with decisions that rank higher and less time with decisions that rank lower.
  2. Generate a list of options. Generate a long list. Don’t do research. Just create options.
  3. By consensus, choose the top three options from the list.
  4. Assign people to research one of the options. (Stay open to the idea that research might reveal another option.)
  5. Set a deadline. For example, next week we’ll discuss our options.
  6. Meet to discuss the pros and cons of each option. If a viable alternative was uncovered during the research stage, replace one of the three options with the alternative. Limit the number of options to three.
  7. After discussing alternatives, ask everyone to vote on their preferred option.
  8. Make the decision if you see consensus. Ask, “What prevents us from making the decision right now?”
  9. If you don’t see consensus, send everyone away for one week of research on the three options on the table.
  10. Reconvene to make the decision.


Evaluate the decision-making process, after making a decision. Ask, “How might we make our decision-making process more efficient?” 

Evaluate and improve the way you make decisions after making a decision.

What suggestions do you have for speeding up a culture of slow-decisions?

Bonus material:

Shorten the timeline:

You might talk to a few power-players on the team. Say what you see. Don’t judge it. “Most of our decisions take about 60 days or 90 days to make.”

Get agreement on how long typical decisions take. After you agree, ask, “What happens in your thinking if we cut that time in half for the next decision we make?”

Speak to values:

Be aware that others might not value speedy decision-making. If this is the case, speak to other values. For example, “I know we value meeting customer expectations. I wonder how speeding up our decision-making process might better serve our customers?”

“I know we value being relevant to our constituent. I wonder if we might be even more relevant if we cut our decision-making time by 25%?”

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