Decide: to make work better

Decision Time

Five frogs on a log is an excellent book by Mark Feldman and Michael Spratt about acquisition integration. The book begins with a riddle:

Five frogs are sitting on a log.

Four decide to jump off.

How many are left?

Answer: 5


Because deciding and doing are not the same thing.

The book builds on the riddle as a metaphor for fast action, I like the lesson that both the riddle and the book deliver, but there is that troublesome first step…deciding.

More and more mid-size and large companies are struggling with indecision and it is vortex that drains the energy out of awesome people that want to do great things.

Go to a meeting…lots of talking…no decision…waste of time: energy drain.

Great idea…not empowered to act…talk to the boss…boss not sure…wants to check with their boss…black hole: energy drain.

Here are a few tips to turn this around:

1. Start all meeting by asking “what do we need to decide?”

2. If nobody knows, cancel the meeting; otherwise continue.

3. Determine if the right people are in the room to make the decisions. If yes, continue with the meeting. If no, reschedule the meeting. Bonus tip: If the meeting organizer wants to continue without the necessary people, just leave. Have them call you if something comes up and they need you.

4. When discussions go down a bunny trail say, “I think I am kinda lost, this is an interesting discussion, but I am unclear how this gets us closer to the decisions we need in the next 26 minutes. Can you clarify for me?”

5. Commit without checking. Too many people want to check everything with their boss. You’re an adult, make a decision without getting approval first. Your boss will be relieved they can rely on you to take action.

6. When the decisions are reached, end the meeting. No hanging around the room to rehash the decision, just pack up and go.

7. Be honest about the outcome. If the decisions were reached in the scheduled time, it was a successful meeting. If the decisions were reached in less than the scheduled time, it was a very successful meeting. If the decisions were not reached, it was an unsuccessful meeting. Although this may seem small, how we talk about things has a major ability to drive change.

8. Jump. Returning to the five frogs book; now that you have a decision start moving on it quickly, before anyone can change their minds. This takes the idea of continued contemplation off the table for most people.

That does it for meetings, but if you are a person with big ideas…don’t give them to a boss who will throw it into the black hole of contemplation and approval processes; just get started doing what is right. Your boss can thank you later.

“Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind maker-upper to make up his mind”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!


Drive yourself and your coworkers to know what needs to be decided and build decision making muscle. Don’t participate in indecision. You will accelerate the pace and make work a lot more enjoyable.

You can follow me on twitter at @jackson_matt and find more operationally focused blog posts at

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