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How Do Decisions Get Made?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

As I venture outside the field of sales I have been meeting decision analysts, coaches, and organization development folks who believe that decision making is different for them.

I’m here to tell you that all decisions, regardless of bias, industry, type or importance of the end result, have the same basic human components, separate from the analysis, weighting, or outcome of the decision sought.

  1. Those responsible for the end result must have at their disposal the full fact pattern of their status quo (the rules, people, activities, culture, output, outcomes, beliefs). For sales, change, and leadership, everyone on the Decision Team must understand ALL of the systems elements that must be included for congruent change (or a new decision) to be effective. And all new decisions become a change management issue.
  2. The system will have difficulty changing it perceives there is any possibility the underlying problem can be fixed by any element of the system. It’s the law of Homeostasis in action.
  3. All – ALL – of those who will touch the solution must buy-in to the change (the new decision) and know how to bring in the new elements without disrupting the system. The system is sacrosanct, and must know how to end up congruent as part of any change or decision-inspired initiative.

Regardless of the outcome, the type of decision, the import, the amount of change – i.e. is it a large implementation that involves many factors and people? or a small change that can be made by one person? – the steps are the same.

Regardless of the focus of the decision – whether it is for decision analysis to choose the best oil rig, or for a software implementation – all of the above steps must be taken. And to ensure bias and buy-in are managed adequately, everyone who will touch the solution must be involved at the human, internal criteria/beliefs place.

Information – that which we collect or share to sell solutions, or which we offer to lead an initiative or gather decision criteria – is the last thing that should be addressed. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to focus on this first, thus biasing the end-result.

What would you need to believe differently to be willing to put the people piece first? What skills would you need to add to what you are doing to delay the information aspect of your approach?


Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions.
More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.com; www.sharondrewmorgen.com



  • http://www.insightdemand.com/ Michael Harris

    An example of a decision we all make would be helpful.

    • Sharon Drew Morgen

      Michael..am traveling…Will get to this at earliest. Thanks for interest…one brief thought in the meantime…try to think of any decisions you’ve made that do not have some sort of personal, probably values based, belief at the core. More later…or email me at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

  • Sharon Drew Morgen

    Hi Michael.
    One of the problems folks have with helping others change – i.e. sales, coaching, management, implementations, etc. – is that we use information (rationality, need, directive) as the vehicle for change. The problem is that the information we offer is the last thing the person/group needs to consider. So if you wanted to get me to smoke cigarettes, the last thing I would need is information about the cigarettes. In fact, there is a set of systemic issues that all decisions/all systems must go through before they need the information and before they can decide. It all starts with the beliefs, and our behaviors are merely a subset of our beliefs.
    In the case of cigarettes, since my underlying belief is that cigarettes shouldn’t even be legal, I would have no desire to listen to any information about them. If you wanted to try to change my belief, you’d need to lead me through my system of change – i.e. where am I and what’s missing, what is keeping the status quo in place, and what internal issues need to buy in for me to feel comfortable making a change of this sort – before I’d consider changing.
    I have written a whole book about this (Dirty Little Secrets – go to http://www.dirtylittlesecretsbook.com for a couple of free chapters) and have broken down the entire system of how change happens and decisions get made. One of the issues we face as sales folks, coaches, leaders, etc. is that we aren’t privy to the internal systemic change issues everyone must handle before they are willing to do anything different. I have Asperger’s, and think/hear in systems. I have coded how it all happens and how to effect change within it. Contact me with questions at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com sd

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