In meetings, writing down decisions (what is the issue, who is going to do what…) is very helpful. It is very easy for people to think everyone agrees to some somewhat clear statements made in the meeting. Only later it becomes obvious several people have different understandings of what was agreed to. Sometimes this is even really known in the meeting but it is easier to let things slide instead of confronting the disagreement. But this is not helpful, it just means the issue is not properly addressed. It might make the meeting easier but that should not be the goal.
Writing down decisions greatly reduces the chance of miscommunication. In a meeting clearly writing down decisions (action items etc.) for everyone to see (on a flip chart for example) is a vey useful tactic to improve communication.
Russell Ackoff also has some great stuff on the importance of documenting decisions – both to serve as guide posts to future action and to serve as documentation that can be examined over time to find historic weaknesses and strengths with decision making in the organization. The Team Handbook is a very good book for improving team meetings and team performance.
• The justification for the decision including its expected effects and the time by which they are expected…
• The assumptions on which the expectations are based…
• The information, knowledge, and understanding that went into the decision.
• Who made the decision, how it was made, and when…
The decision should be monitored to determine whether the expectations are being met and the assumptions on which they are based remain valid.
When a deviation is found in either the assumptions or expectations, it should be diagnosed, the cause determined and corrective action prescribed and taken.
The corrective action is itself the result of a decision. A record of this decision should be made and treated as the original decision. In this way the process can not only yield learning but also learning how to learn.
A record of the entire process (all four steps) should be made and stored for easy access by those who may later be confronted by the need to make a similar type of decision.