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The Power of Decision Meetings to Maximize Speed and Performance

In today's fast-paced business world, maintaining speed and performance is crucial for success. As a manager, you play a vital role in ensuring your team operates efficiently and effectively. One approach that can significantly contribute to this is decision meetings. 


I spoke with Atif Rafiq, Author of Decision Sprint: The New Way to Innovate Into The Unknown And Move From Strategy to Action. He is also an experienced C-suite executive, holding roles at McDonald's, Volvo, and MGM Resorts, among others. During his career, Atif developed a process for upstream work that leads teams to consistently make good decisions. 


Atif shares his tried and true method for decision meetings, their impact on speed and performance, and practical tips for optimizing their effectiveness. By following these strategies, you can unlock the potential of your team and drive successful implementation of key initiatives.


Key Steps to Prepare for Effective Decision Meetings 


To maximize the impact of decision meetings, it is essential to follow a structured approach leading up to the meeting. In fact, Atif says that by the time you arrive at the decision meeting, most of the hard work is already done.


Before engaging in a decision-making conversation, Atif encourages teams to use the following process:


1. Craft a problem statement.

Clearly articulate the problem or challenge at hand to provide a scope for exploration and data gathering. Be sure to surface questions that need investigation.


2. Seek feedback and calibration. 

Engage sponsors or key stakeholders to validate your approach and ensure alignment with their expectations. Get permission to go ahead with the exploration.


3. Dive into exploration. 

Gather a team to conduct thorough research, run experiments to collect data, and seek answers to key questions. 


4. Evaluate the data. 

Draw conclusions from the information the team has gathered. Explore opinions and assumptions as you work towards shared interpretation.


5. Summarize findings and recommendations. 

Compile your insights into a concise narrative or frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to present to stakeholders. Garner approval and support to move forward.


Use the Decision Meeting Wisely


Finally, we reach the decision meeting. With everyone on the same page, the decision meeting is less about a go/no go decision, and more about how to go forward. By engaging in thorough explorations and building alignment beforehand, decision meetings become lighter and more efficient.


During the decision meeting, Atif recommends we focus on identifying and assigning the necessary actions for moving forward. This is the time to build the plan for successful implementation. 


As the conversation unfolds, notice and address any secondary considerations. There may be additional adjustments or resources needed to facilitate the proposed course of action.

The goal of the decision meeting is not to walk away with only a decision. Strive to leave with clear next steps that will propel the initiative forward.


Go Slow to Go Fast 


While this process may seem like it will extend a project’s timeline, in reality, it does the opposite. Atif notes how focusing on upstream work reduces frictions that slow work down during the execution phase. 


For example, questions are critical early on during the exploration phase. But, if questions aren’t asked until the decision meeting, or after, they can upend a project, causing delays, rework, and bureaucracy. 


Effective decision meetings are invaluable for maintaining speed and performance in business. By adopting a structured approach early in the workflow, managers can drive effective decision-making and successful implementation. Embracing the power of decision meetings can lead to improved efficiency, enhanced teamwork, and ultimately, greater success in achieving goals. So, why wait? Start incorporating decision meetings into your management routine and unlock the potential of your team today!


Listen to the entire episode  HERE  to learn more about effective upstream work and decision-making.


Keep up with Atif Rafiq:


- Follow Atif on LinkedIn here


- Subscribe to his newsletter here


- Visit Decision Sprint for more information here


FREE Executive Summary E-book version of Decision Sprint


Members of Podcast+ and the Skills Accelerator get an Executive summary e-book version of Decision Sprint. This 37-page PDF provides the big ideas from each chapter for free. 


50% Discount on Decision Sprint Workshops


Members get a 50% discount on Decision Sprint workshops. These are 1-2 day workshops, virtual or in person, where your team or organization will get to experience the decision sprint workflows directly, enabling you to accomplish work together during the training as well as prepare to integrate the method going forward.


Get this guest bonus and many other member benefits when you join The Modern Manager Podcast+ Community.



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The Modern Manager is a leadership podcast for rockstar managers who want to create a working environment where people thrive, and great work gets done.


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