In recent posts, we’ve been exploring how to decide how to make decisions. We’ll cycle back to that topic, but for now my attention has turned to something that needs to happen once a decision has been made: follow through with it.
Waffling about a decision dilutes our focus. It makes us feel restless and we come across to others as evasive or indecisive. It saps our energy. In contrast, focused energy moving in a singular direction is powerful. There’s a reason that rowing analogies are so popular – rowing in more than one direction at a time literally takes us nowhere. As Tony Robbins is known for saying, “Where focus goes, energy flows.”
I was recently in a meeting where the same decision was being re-opened and discussed as had been discussed (and made, I thought) in two previous meetings, with the same people around the table and no new information. I could feel myself getting twitchy. Surely we have enough to do without making the same decision more than once?
The good news is that if your group has followed a deliberate and co-created process for making a decision, that decision is more likely to have credibility and enthusiasm behind it because people know how it was made and they were part of doing so. As Mark Wilson of the Centre for Systems Management says, “people tend to support best that which they helped create.” It will be easier to stick with a decision when you can think back to the team’s rationale for making it. And if your conviction wavers, you have other people who were there and who are bought in. They can remind you of the reasons behind the decision, thereby strengthening your resolve.
If you or your team tends to struggle with faithful follow-through, I suggest two immediate first aid tips:
- Understand the why. Is there a pattern underlying your group’s lack of conviction? Are decisions poorly documented or otherwise communicated? Does the same person tend to question previous decisions in each subsequent meeting? Do you lack systems to simplify implementation? Is poor follow-through simply a habit? Accurate diagnosis can facilitate effective treatment.
- Set a timeframe for re-evaluation. Agree together when the decision will be revisited. By extension, that means not re-opening it until then. If people know that a path forward is not permanent but rather is in a pilot phase and is open to further discussion after a period of time, they are more likely to settle into it contentedly for now. Collect some data and experience, then honour your commitment to re-evaluate when the time comes. And not before.
You’ve made a decision, collectively and using a defensible process. Now go all in. Your conviction will itself accelerate momentum toward achieving your shared goals. Wiser decisions faster.