How To Get A Decision Quickly and Painlessly


Most leaders get asked to make bushels of decisions daily. It can be overwhelming for both the people making the decisions and the people asking for the decisions. Here is a good way to ask for a decision from anyone who is busy. Use it next time you need to get direction, insight, or a decision. Or, teach it to the people who ask you for decisions.

How To Get a Decision

First, consider whether you need a decision and if so, what decision do you need and from whom do you need it. Keep in mind, many busy people would prefer to make an informed decision than attend a less-than-structured meeting about the same topic.

Next, formulate the decision request like this:

  1. Issue. Give a one-sentence description of the issue.
  2. Impact. Give a one-sentence description of the impact (to the decider) of this issue.
  3. Options. Present a brief bullet list of the options available to address this issue. If needed, include a “do nothing now” option.
  4. Recommendation. State your recommendation, that is, which of the options you suggest they go with.
  5. Justification. Give your justification. Briefly explain why you recommend this option.
  6. Ask. Ask for the decision. You may get an immediate decision or you may need to negotiate with the decision maker about the time/date by when they will make the decision.

It’s often useful to you and the decider for you to write out these points. If you have detailed information to back up your justification, include it as an addendum rather than as part of your presentation/argument.

Many leaders tend to see meetings and other conversations as ways to dump work on them. They prefer the above approach because it demonstrates to them that you’ve thought things through.

Be prepared. Your decider may have other information about or options in mind for the issue at hand. This is fine. You may need to adjust your request for a decision based on this new information, you may need to accept a choice you hadn’t considered, or you may need to retreat, rethink, and return with a new decision for them to make.

Sometimes we need more than a decision from a busy person. If you are looking for a deeper conversation you can use an abbreviated version of this format to ask for that conversation. State the issue at hand, the impact, and that you would like to have a meeting to explore, get insight, get guidance, etc. Suggest that you could have the discussion now or schedule it for a later time. State your recommendation (now or later) and reason. Then, ask for their preference.


In your corner,


PS: 1 bushel = 30.2833 litres or 8 gallons. Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of decisions.


Today’s photo credit: Rob MacEwen cc

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