Avoiding Decision Stall: Debate vs. GO


debate vs go

Decision Stall

Many companies that I talk to have issues with effective decision making — They want to make better decisions. They want to make them faster. And they want them to stick.

While leaders often need to make decisions with incomplete data, one of the common issues I see is that decisions are made without learning all the data that IS knowable, and without enough support of the team.

Then the decisions are questioned, stalled, made over — and then questioned, and made over and over again.

The technique I use to avoid this decision stall is called Debate vs. Go.

This implies that there are two necessary and separate phases. The DEBATE phase and the GO phase.

The need for Debate

Many executives avoid opening up an issue for debate because they just want to be able to say, “Make it so,” and have their team execute.

They fear that if they open up a conversation, that it might raise conflict, doubt, disagreement and dissent.
And they see these things as a challenge to their authority, or a waste of time.

This is a shame.

Because in this type of environment, people who know important things won’t always speak up when they should, because they feel like their input is not welcome.

So important information that the leader really needs to know remains hidden, and people also feel dis-empowered. So both the decision and its execution are compromised.

Conflict improves decisions

But in reality, healthy debate and conflict is useful, as it yields the important information necessary to make a good decision.

When people are arguing, you get the deepest and richest understanding of an issue.

If the leader is unwilling to allow this open, rigorous conversation to happen, they are missing critical information about the issue.

The Debate Phase

By naming and creating a DEBATE phase, people feel like their inputs are welcome — and that they have permission, and won’t be punished for speaking up.

So at the end of debate phase, not only is everyone smarter, but also, everyone has had a chance to personally process the issue.

The debate itself gives everyone time to tune their belief systems to get ready to go, and they are more likely to be motivated since their opinions were considered.

Without the debate phase, you will not make the most informed decision, and your team will not be as ready or motivated to move forward.

The inability to progress

The other big issue that happens if you skip debate phase is that you don’t have a mechanism for ending the debate phase!

Management teams waste huge amounts of time by revisiting decisions over and over again, questioning the direction and circling back for more data.

The leaders might think they have made a decision, but the organization is reluctant to engage because you’re still talking about it!

Everyone perceives the continued discussion to mean that the issue is still in question, and well… open for debate.

So people wait for the final answer instead of moving forward. And they continue to add to the conversation, raising even more issues and questions. Decisions remain unmade.

The Transition to GO

One of the beautiful things about having a formal debate phase is that you can end it.

I make it clear that for every initiative or decision, there is DEBATE time and there is GO time.

1. Debate Time: Talking, Questions, Input, Arguments are welcome.

During debate time, I make it clear that I want to hear people’s opinions. I want to hear the arguments. I want everyone to fight for their point of view.

2. Make a Clear Decision

After debate time is over, I make it clear who owns the decision, and make sure the decision gets made.

3. Initiate GO Time

Go Time

Then I make it clear that we are in GO time. The decision is communicated and the action is officially kicked off. This is the time to engage in the work, not in the debate. The debate phase is over.

By setting this structure, you can make it clear that during debate time, the expected and valued behavior is to speak up.

Then once you announce the decision and make it clear that it’s GO time, people know that the expected and valued behavior is action, not more talking.

I talk more about Debate vs. GO and other ways to improve decision making in Chapter 21 of my book MOVE: Decision Stall. And the next chapter is how to identify and recover from setbacks.

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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Building the team you Need vs. Managing the team you Have: WEBINAR



This month’s Professional Development webinar was on the topic of Building a High Performing Team.

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Get the webinar

If you missed it you can download the recording.

Members of my professional development program can download this webinar for free.

If you think your team could be performing better but don’t know how to make that happen, download this webinar.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Get the right people in the right roles
  • Attract and motivate top performers
  • Deal with weak players or poor performers
  • Evolve role definition and performance measures for the future
  • Have more effective performance management conversations

Here is what we talked about:

All the ropes are tight

I love the metaphor of dogsledding for thinking about the performance of a team.

When you imagine all the dogs running forward with great motivation and energy, in the same direction and all pulling their share of the weight — all the ropes are tight.

No one is slacking off. No one is running in the wrong direction, or zig zagging back and forth getting all the ropes tangled.

No matter how high performing your team is, you are not going to get very far if one of the dogs decides to sit down in the middle of the race. (Thanks Suzanne for that addition to the metaphor!)

So when you look at your team, you need to do an honest assessment, and ask. Are all the ropes tight?

Building the team you need

In the webinar I described my method for creating the Ideal Blank-Sheet org chart, which is a method for making sure you have a team that is fit for a specific business mission.

Any good organization definition starts with the desired business outcomes.

This webinar includes worksheet and templates to help you define you ideal organization and to define each role within the organization.

Highly effective performance management

Many times we equate the idea of performance management with dealing with low performers. While it is necessary to improve or eliminate low performance, it’s important not to forget there are things you should be doing to manage high performers too.

Performance conversations are often stressful, or put on the back burner for a variety of reasons.

As leaders we need to be proactive and consistent about performance management.

In this webinar I shared the approach to set very clear performance measures and also have highly effective performance management conversations. There’s a great template to structure the performance conversation included as well.

Motivation and engagement

Finally we talked about creating high motivation and engagement of the team. As leaders we have the opportunity to create an environment where people can thrive, and we should be doing things on purpose to do just that.

The webinar:

I put together this webinar to give leaders ideas and specific techniques for building and motivating the team you NEED, vs. simply managing the team you HAVE.

In this webinar you will learn how to:

  • Create your ideal, blank-sheet org chart
  • Deal appropriately with both high and low performers
  • Document performance measures, outcomes, and gaps to drive action and growth
  • Conduct highly effective performance conversations
  • Motivate and make people feel like super-heroes

The webinar is loaded with valuable resources

The worksheets and templates in this webinar are super-useful for creating your ideal organization structure, defining roles and how they need to evolve into the future, and providing structure for effective performance management conversations.

Members: Download this webinar for free.

Non Members: You can purchase this individual webinar or podcast (links below).

More, useful webinars for motivating your team:

As a member, just around this topic of metrics, execution and team performance you can get these other related webinars:

So if you are not yet a member, you might as well join and get them all for free!

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Let me be your mentor

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Members of the Azzarello Group program for Professional Development basically get me as their mentor.

Every month you get new insights and tools in the form of these webinars, as well as the chance to call into a monthly members-only coaching hour where you can get direct personal coaching from me.

People tell me that membership gives them a totally new way of thinking about their career, getting promotions, solving difficult problems with bosses, peers, employees, and other annoying people, communicating better, being more influential, becoming a stronger leader, and enjoying their work more. I love to hear this, and I love to help!

If you join now, you’ll not only get this webinar, but all the other webinars in the Member Library.

AND you’ll get the opportunity to participate in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls with me.
Check out what we talk about.

AND as a member you’ll get to download your copy of the Career Year of action Guide (a $30 value) for free.

Membership to Azzarello Group is a great resource (and a steal at $179 for a whole year) to help you advance your career.

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Purchase just this webinar ($19.99)
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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Stop Having Status Meetings


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book. This week: Stop Having Status Meetings.

Status meetings are almost a form of anti-communication

They do not foster a healthy sharing of knowledge, ideas and risks. They choke the system with so much detail, that necessary insights can never appear. There are 3 key problems that status/review meetings cause:

1. You don’t gain necessary insights about risks and opportunities
2. You keep people from doing real work and waste a lot of time
3. You fail to discuss the things that would give you insights about risks and opportunities — because you spend all your time and energy reviewing project detail

Have a different and better meeting

In MOVE I outline 12 better things to do instead of talking about status.

Today I’ll share #5.

5. Question the habits

Habit is a very powerful force that makes organizations get stuck doing things the same way over and over again. Old habits become ingrained and some lose their usefulness.

And then everyone gets too over-busy doing stuff that does not matter anymore to think about how there might be a better way to do something, or to stop doing something. Use your staff time to question what you are doing and it’s continued worth.

Discuss:
• Why do we do this?
• Who uses this? And what do they use it for?
• Have we asked them if it is useful for what they use it for?
• Might something else be better?
• How much does this cost? and Why? What do we get. You’ll find things in your organization which can be stopped or done in much more efficient and effective ways, if you simply talk about it with your team.

To get the rest of this list of what to do instead of talking about status, pre-order your copy of MOVE now! It’s available Feb 28!

Read MOVE

I’m really excited to share the important ideas, and all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team (at any level in the organization) to execute your strategy more decisively.

MOVE will be available in February, but you can download a free preview now or pre-order your copy now.
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Click to Pre-order
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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Good Measures and Bad Measures: The Monday MOVE Idea


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The Monday MOVE Idea

Each Monday until the launch of my upcoming book MOVE, I’ll be sharing an important idea from the book.

This week: Good and Bad Measures

The right measures

Many managers struggle to know if they are measuring the right things. If you can get it right, you can achieve the holy grail of being confident about progress without getting overly involved in tracking detail.

Many times we select bad measures simply because they are the easiest thing to measure: “How many times did we do this? How much of this did we do? How fast did we do this? How many people saw this?”

We satisfy ourselves with the fact that we are measuring something. But in fact, we may be doing more harm than good because we are distracted from measuring the right things that drive action and forward progress in the business.

Activities vs. Outcomes

Good measures predict actual desired outcomes and enable you to move the business forward. Bad measures measure only activities or steps in the process, not outcomes.

Here’s a basic example of what I mean. Imagine you goal is to improve the capability of the customer service reps in your organization, so you put them all through training.

If you then have a success measure of “# of customer service reps who have gone through training”, that is a measure only of the activity or the process step — that they have gone through the training. It tells you literally nothing about the outcome — whether or not they have become better at their jobs.

In MOVE I talk about how to choose and measure the “Control Points” and outcomes instead of the activities or process steps. In this example, you would measure, “Did our service reps actually get better their jobs in a way that is meaningful to our customers?” Once you get the hang of it, you can create truly meaningful measures that will move your business forward.

Read MOVE

I’m really excited to share all the tools I put in my upcoming book MOVE to help you get your team to execute your strategy or implement your key initiatives more decisively — Including ideas to build sponsorship along with building your own confidence and courage.

MOVE will be available in February, but you can download a free preview now.
Click to download
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What do you think?

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Who else would like to see this?

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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

If you want more urgency, schedule it


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“I want to see more urgency”

I hear this from executives all the time.

“I want to see more urgency.”
Urgency is one of those troubling words that is often thrown about, but not grounded in something do-able.

I’ll ask them, What exactly would urgency look like? What would you see? Would you feel better if people were all running around in a panic?

But it’s actually very simple to create urgency. If you want more urgency, schedule it.

Defining the Middle

As I’ve been talking about my upcoming book MOVE, one of the biggest issues organizations face is “The Middle”.

Strategies have a lot of attention and investment up front. Long term goals are defined at the end. And then there is the vast expanse in the Middle which is often not discussed — and is where literally everything needs to get done.

What I find is that organizations too often launch into the Middle with the end goals in sight, but never specifically talk about needs to happen during the Middle.

What will you SEE?

Long-term initiatives (and urgency) suffer from what feels like an abundance of time in the beginning.

The way to combat this is to specifically define things in the middle that you will SEE. Here’s what I mean…

For example: Your goal is to sell higher in your enterprise accounts.

So, let’s say you have defined your end goal to be something concrete: 50 new executive level relationships and 5 big deals closed by the end of the first year.

Though that concreteness is good, be careful to realize that it tells you nothing about what you will SEE or DO during the Middle to achieve it.

So what happens is that everyone nods their heads and goes back to work. Nothing changes. It feels like you’ve got plenty of time. There is no urgency.

Charting the course through the Middle

So now the task is to start defining the Middle. Work backwards from the goal. Define what you will SEE.

For example for that outcome to be true in a year, what would need to be true 9 months out?

9 months out: 30 new big deals are under discussion, 10 of deals are officially in the pipeline.

Then you ask, for that to be true 9 months out, what would need to be true in 6 months?

6 months out: 50 target accounts are defined and 50 executives are named, and each one has a sales salesperson assigned and a quota for the next 18 months.

For that to be true 6 months out, what will need to be true 3 months out?

3 months out: 100 accounts are selected for vetting, and that 25 sales reps in North America have gone through a training, and have found and external mentor who can help them up level their sales skills.

If that were true 3 months out, that means …

1 month out: The first 25 sales reps have been identified. We have created a headhunting firm of sorts to help match them up with external mentors.

Achieving Urgency: Part 1

Without this process of setting points throughout the Middle, people leave the meeting nodding their heads and thinking, “Yeah, that’s important, but we have a year to get it done, so I don’t need to worry about it for a while.”

When you get a task that will take a year, on any Monday early in the process, you kind of still have a year. If you don’t start it for a month, you still have most of the year. But this thinking can repeat over and over again. Suddenly you are 10 months in and still have 12 months of work left to do!

But if instead, you define the timeline up front, and you leave the meeting with checkpoints already defined for 1,3,6, and 9 months out, people leave the meeting with specific actions that need to start as soon as next week!

People can’t simply just go back to work and feel like they have a year to make it come true. They have tasks to do starting immediately!

Achieving Urgency: Part 2

Once you have a timeline, where you can all agree the specific things that you will SEE throughout the Middle, and the resulting specific things that you will DO, then you can ask yourself, “Is this pace fast enough?”

If it is, great, if not, tighten up the actions you have placed on the on time line to occur at a faster pace. If you can get your team to buy in to the shorter timeline, and you stay focused on achieving each milestone, you will have created actual urgency — by scheduling it.

Putting Strategy into Action

This is the process I use over and over again with clients in my Strategy into Action program. We go from vaguely talking about urgency, to aligning on a timeline that regulates the right amount of urgency by being clear and actionable. If you are interested in learning more about using this process with your team, contact me. I’d love to help.

My upcoming book MOVE is about decisively executing strategy

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Download a Preview

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In my years of leading business transformations and turnarounds, building highly successfull management teams, and working with countless clients to implement their strategies, I have determined what factors enable faster, more decisive execution, and reduce risk.

It’s all in the book! I can’t wait to share it!

Pre-order!

Pre-order MOVE here
MOVE Wwill be available in Feb 2017, but you can pre-order now.

Get a copy for your whole team

Or if you’d like to pre-order a copy for everyone on your team, contact us for bulk-order discounts.

ABOUT PATTY:

patty blog image
Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.