As the great Peter Drucker: “It never fails to amaze me how you can take intelligent people, put them on a committee, and they come up with a decision only an idiot could make.”

Unfortunately, I have to agree with him. Too many times I see teams of talented, capable, experienced people come together – and struggle to efficiently and effectively make high quality decisions.

Let’s start to solve that problem right now.

Here are three of the biggest issues that cause ineffective and inefficient discussions and decision-making – and how to successful deal with them:


Issue #1: Lack of a clear, coherent, agreed upon outcome or result
How to solve issue #1: In the desire to get things done fast, too many people never prioritize what is actually worth doing. This results in attempting to discuss and solve too many problems, rather than thoughtfully choosing what priority results are worth discussing and committing the team to accomplishing.

Every meeting should and must have clear, compelling, and coherent results that the discussions are aimed at achieving. This includes ensuring that every meeting starts with an agenda that defines these results to focus on attaining (versus a list of topics for discussion).

When the conversation is focused on defining and achieving an important set of valuable results, the quality of dialogue and decision–making improves significantly.

Look at your last meeting that went well – and I’ll bet it was focused on driving important results. Look at your last meeting that didn’t go well – and I’ll bet there was a lot of discussion, even argument about what to do, but clarity about the high impact, valuable result(s) was missing.

Issue #2: Inability to have open and honest discourse, rather than advocacy for positions

How to solve issue #2: How many times have you seen a meeting break down because someone or a few people were taking things too personally?

What happens when people feel personally attached to, or attacked for their position, the reaction is almost always defensive, reactive, and likely to throw the meaningful conversation off target.

Being able to debate ideas with a passion for the result (more than a particular approach to achieving that result) raises the quality of insightful and innovative thinking.

A focus on results often opens a whole new level of thinking about how to get to that outcome. However, contrast that with a focus on process without clarity of and focus on the most important results, and watch the level of thoughtful dialogue stagnate and deteriorate.

A focus on debating a particular path without regard as to whether it’s the best way to achieve a meaningful result leads to argument and a loss of focus on what really matters – high quality outcomes.

Issue #3: Fear of retribution if you don’t agree with the senior person.
How to solve issue #3: Great leaders are always looking for improvements, solutions, and ways to accelerate their most critical results. Poor leaders are always looking for agreement, acquiescence, and seeing their people fall in line and acknowledge their solutions.

It’s obvious that the best leaders engage their team in high quality dialogue towards critical results, searching for insights, inspiration, and new ways to illuminate a faster and better outcome of greater value. In the search for excellence in thinking and results, an open, organized, and well–coordinated team will always out-produce the greatest genius.

As an example, in Michael Jordan’s first NBA playoff game, he scored 60 points against the Larry Bird–led Boston Celtics. When asked about Michael Jordan’s performance, Larry Bird said, “He plays like God.” The Boston Celtics went on to win that series three games to zero. It was only when Jordan truly had a team around him that he reeled off six NBA championships.

How are you doing getting your people to be an outcome-focused, innovative-thinking, results-delivering team?

To accelerating your success,