Tricks of the Trade Venture Partner Series: Good Decision Making is a Competitive Advantage – Strategy Sessions

Tricks of the Trade Venture Partner Series: Good Decision Making is a Competitive Advantage – Strategy Sessions

April 15, 2015

When I talk to executives about how they make decisions I’m often told, “we just do it” or “I have a bunch of 1:1 meetings and decide on something.” These ad hoc approaches are not great – there needs to be a formalized process of deciding between one or more options.

No one does this. No one devotes two hours every week to making smart, informed decisions. To block off that time will give you a huge competitive advantage and create strong advocates for your business from inside your organization.

As you read this post you may think to yourself – I feel like I’ve heard of people doing this before. They’re your investors and they do it at a weekly partner meeting. That’s how you were decided upon as an investment – the right people got in a room, options were presented and a great decision was made. If not all the info is available, push back the meeting – you should only have the meeting when you’re ready to make an informed decision.

Here are some items to consider:

Know how to present your argument
As in any good debate, it’s best to come prepared. Assign a lead, put together a presentation (example template) that addresses the problems and the options. It doesn’t have to be a C-suite dweller making the presentation. Pick the best person for the job.

Know your audience
If your solutions are going to impact engineering VPs for example, get them in the room for the debate. Also, be aware that your management team or CEO might not be as close to the problem as you are – walk them through the decision tree.

Leave time for discussion
Your presentation should take no more than 15 minutes to explain. Leave an hour for debate if there’s dissention. The worst is to rush a decision for time’s sake so plan accordingly.

Make a final decision
There has to be an agreement and a decision that is final. A major hurdle to growth I’ve seen is wavering. You shouldn’t make a smart, reasoned, collective decision and abandon or change it the next day on a single other piece of data or bad night’s sleep. Stick to your decisions. This will drive consistency in decision-making. Remember you’re not aiming for perfection you’re aiming for throughput.

Most companies I’ve worked with have a bunch of ideas floating around. Every once in a while a decision needs to be made and the question is what’s the best forum / process. In these days of lean startups and “agile,” you want to be able to move quickly, but it’s also important to create a process for pros and cons to be weighed and an informed decision to be made.

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