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Ensuring Follow-Through

In this insightful video, the author addresses the common challenge of follow-through after decision-making in organizational settings. Drawing from extensive experience, the author presents practical suggestions to enhance the likelihood of implementing agreed-upon decisions. Emphasizing the importance of clarity in decision-making processes, the video advocates for assigning accountability, setting specific timelines (SPA), and fostering consensus. By actively engaging in these strategies during meetings, teams can bridge the gap between decision and execution. This concise piece serves as a valuable guide for individuals seeking to improve organizational effectiveness and ensure that decisions translate into actionable outcomes.


Ensuring follow-through when making a decision. How many times have you been in a meeting where you had a discussion, people raised their hand, voted, or said, “Yes, let’s do this,” and a decision was made to do something that just didn’t happen? My guess, based on my experience in organizations over the years, is that it happens at least half the time. So, if in your meetings, you could actually have something happen after you agreed to do it, wouldn’t that be really cool? These are some suggestions that I’ve come up with over the years that will not guarantee but will at least raise the chances. I say ensure, but that’s a hope. Raise the chances that what you agree on in a meeting will happen.

What frequently takes place is after the meeting, people go out into the hall, get a cup of coffee, or go to the bathroom, and they say, “Oh man, that’ll never happen. I can’t believe we… well, I want to get those conversations in the meeting.” So that’s part of what we’re doing here. Here we go. The first thing you can do is fundamental. People need to know how we are going to make the decision about this topic before you start that item on the agenda. So if you’re working through an agenda, beside each agenda item, you should have a number. If you’re the facilitator and you’re not the boss, you and the boss need to decide the team leader, “How are we going to make this decision?” Remember the decision-making continuum that has these six different dimensions, all the way from the boss or the team leader telling people what to do, persuading, explaining, consulting, joining in a consensus model, or responding to something that the group has recommended, or the group is entirely free. Where are we on this continuum, boss? Have that beside each item before you start to talk about it.

A lot of breakdowns occur because the team thought they had more influence or were going to have more influence in the decision-making process. You’ve got to get that very clear up front. Where are we? What’s real here? The next thing you can do, and I got this from my colleague Bob Crosby years ago, is to make sure that for each thing you’ve decided, there is a single point of accountability at SPA or a single person accountable. Who’s the person in the room raising their hand and saying, “I’m going to make sure I’m taking personal responsibility to ensure that this thing gets followed through on”? This is so powerful and also have a “by when.” Something without a date and an SPA is just an interesting idea. As soon as you have a person say, “I’ll do it, and I’ll do it by this date,” something will happen by a date. Now you’ve got a chance of something actually happening. Very important. SPA and a “by when.”

The third thing you want, if you’re facilitating, is to summarize out loud after a decision has been made what will happen. Say, “Okay, this is what we’ve agreed to do. You’re the SPA. You’re going to deliver this by such and such a date.” Summarize out loud, either the boss or the facilitator. Another thing you should do is test for consensus. Like, did we just decide to do this? And how on board are each of you with this? I like to use the five-finger method. Like, did we just make a decision? Yes. Okay. Is this what we decided? Yes. Okay. How on board are you really with this? The one is, I’m not on board at all, and five is, “Yeah, I’m really behind it now.” In some meetings, maybe in a lot of meetings, people won’t tell the truth. They’ll say, “Oh, I know what the right answer is. The right answer is five, so I’m going to throw out a five.” This is where the boss and the facilitator need to slowly train the team to tell the truth if it helps. If the boss throws out a two or something or says, “I still have some questions, but you know, I’m thinking about it. I’m going to have to work on this.” Use the five-finger method. Number five is check for confidence. “Okay, I’m not on board with it, but how confident are you that this is actually going to happen?” The first thing is personal: I’m on board or not. The third one is what about us? How confident are you this is going to happen? Again, use the five-point scale. If somebody gives a four or a three, come back around and say, “What would help you be more confident? What’s missing?” So those conversations that usually happen in the hall are starting to happen in the meeting with this kind of thing. Okay, you gave a two. Wow. What was that about? Say some more without blame or anything.

The sixth is a great question from my old gestalt training. When a client would say, “I’m going to do this,” I would say, “Okay, great. Now, based on what you know about yourself, how might you sabotage this?” That’s a great question. So the facilitator could say, “Based on our history, how might we sabotage this? How will we ensure then, given that, how can we ensure that it actually happens?” If you do these six things during the meeting, I have found that the chances go way up that what you actually say you’re going to do will take place. It doesn’t ensure follow-through, but it sure makes a huge difference. Give them a try.


This insightful video delves into essential survival skills for navigating today’s workplace challenges. Covering skills seven to ten, it emphasizes the importance of developing courage to face challenges (symbolized by “tigers”), mastering cross-functional teamwork, adapting to rapid change, and finding purpose beyond routine tasks. The author encourages readers to view their work as contributing to a larger purpose, urging them to quit a mundane job and discover work that aligns with personal passions and makes a meaningful impact. With a focus on personal development, organizational growth, and effective teamwork, the video provides practical advice for thriving in the dynamic modern workplace.

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