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According to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, “Power is no longer simply the sum of capability and capacity but now, disproportionately, it includes speed—speed of action but especially speed of decision-making.” (source: WSJ, Voices on the Future)

Speed of Decision-making

Race Against Time: Speed of Decision-making

For any consensual and well-informed decision, however, consider at least seven agenda steps to ensure speed of decision-making:

Seven Agenda Steps Ensure Speed of Decision-making

Do not forget to begin with the purpose of the decision or you risk combative participants with competing purposes. Also, begin with WHY the situation is valuable or important before you begin your analysis or WHAT discussions.

Embrace the rules of ideation when capturing options—no discussion, high energy, etc. Set them aside and immediately develop an understanding of the decision criteria. General Dempsey added that:

“Countering the need for speed is often the paralyzing volumes of information, which often create an illusion of control and optimal decision making.”

Here is why we rely on subject matter experts, to translate the volumes of information, into the most important considerations.

Most importantly, understand how you plan to scrub the criteria and what tool is most appropriate for your situation. In our MG RUSH Professional Facilitative Leadership curriculum, we look at various methods to galvanize consensus around decisions including:

Technique to Ensure Speed of Decision-making

Throughout the decision step, get the group to first deselect and agree on sub-optimal options so that the number of viable options is reduced, increasing the likelihood that the group will better focus on the best candidates. Do not allow any tool to make the decision for you, but allow tools to help you de-select.

For testing, take the decision and compare it with the purpose developed in the second step of the agenda. Determine to what extent the decision supports the purpose. If the harmony is strong, the meeting is over. If there are disconnects, revisit both the purpose statement and tentative decision with questions about clarity, omissions, and deletions, until you have developed a decision that the participants can “live with” meaning they will support it and not lose sleep over it, even if it is not their ‘favorite.’


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

Want a free 10-minute break timer? Signup for our once-monthly newsletter HERE and receive a timer along with four other of our favorite facilitation tools, free.

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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