Monica Enand of Zapproved wrote a great post on how to work more effectively and efficiently with others on Zen Habits.

  1. One Decision at a Time. Do not lump several decisions into one. Break them apart and isolate them so that the team can address them individually. This will narrow the focus of any objections raised so that the discussion is manageable and can be concluded quickly.
  2. Be Transparent. Hold discussions in the open, either in person or virtually. Successful organizations put decisions in the sunlight. Closed-door agreements can fuel speculation and inhibits the group’s ability to buy-in to the agreed upon direction.
  3. Give the Facts. Be proactive about gathering the required information in advance. Data-driven decisions go smoothly and avoid injecting emotion which will muddle the process. People need data, whether it’s research, budgets, timelines. Provide so they don’t have to come back and request it later.
  4. Minimize Participants. Include people on the decision that need to be there. If others have an interest, you can copy them but don’t invite them. Ask yourself if a person’s objection would stop the project. If not, then don’t include them.
  5. Subtract Words. Use the fewest words necessary to convey the proposal. Your team will absorb the scope, but extraneous details will dilute the message and might distract from your main objective.
  6. Be Clear What “Yes” Means. It sounds obvious, but when creating a proposal, create a proposal. Request in a crisp way and use actionable language. This is a common mistake. Add focus and formality as needed in the Subject line and in the message itself. Don’t say “let me know what you think” when you mean “do you approve this project.”
  7. Record the Decision. Seems simple but is hard to do, especially in email. There is a reason boards of directors keep minutes. People will take the decision seriously and will abide by it if they know it is saved in a place that is public. Think about a document or folder on an intranet or on the web where the agreement is recorded. Even if it is not referenced, the simple fact of know it exists will create peer pressure and accountability that is powerful.

I thought this list was awesome!  And summed up why decisions never really get made in a lot of organizations.  It is because we do not look at simplifying the process.  We don’t put a system such as this in place to help guide us and make it easier.  I especially thought the point that you need to minimize people there.  Only have the people at the meeting that need to be at the meeting.  Too many times you try to keep everyone happy by having everyone there.  In doing that you are way more unproductive.

Monica also said in the article:

Noted tech blogger Robert Scoble suggested last October that the number of emails required to get something done is equal to the number of people involved squared, i.e. eight people results in 64 emails.

Email is very nice to have but also can be one of the biggest time wasters if not used correctly.