What Decisions Did We Make Today? / by David Sherwin


Individual decisions end up becoming team decisions. Teams get misaligned when they don’t acknowledge this fact, and find ways to socialize individual decisions to see how they factor into a team’s work output. Often decisions happen within specific disciplines: Engineering decisions happen with engineers, design decisions with designers, and so forth. 

The following ritual encourages cross-silo communication and reinforces open communication habits, and can prove valuable for any team struggling to incorporate individual decisions into their team’s work. 

Here’s how to do it:

Set up a brief touch-base for your team near the end of your workday.

Let everyone know that it will be no longer than 5 minutes. If you already do an end-of-day standup or check-in, then this can be incorporated into your current agenda. 

At the touch-base, ask the team one simple question: “What decisions did we make today?” 

Go from person to person, who should succinctly describe what decisions they made, both individually and in collaboration with others. One attendee should write down a brief summary of these decisions as you go. 

Circulate the summary of decisions to your team at the end of the day. 

With a summary like this, people on the team can refer back to those decisions, and those who were out sick or on vacation will be aware of them.

If you’re a wholly distributed team, or you’re anti-meeting, it’s easy to do this in a virtual format. You can ask each person to post their decision list, as long as everyone makes sure to read through those decisions before the next day rolls around.

That said, this type of meeting isn’t a venue to debate decisions. This is only where you share decisions that have been made. If team members start discussing or debating the decisions that are shared, ask them to schedule time with the right people to continue the conversation. If discussions or debate come up regularly, then you know that your teammates aren’t having enough communication and collaboration time as part of their workday to socialize information and make decisions together. Either that, or your team members need a more in-depth discussion about accountability around decisions concerning different aspects of your project work.

Tiny rituals can have a big impact on how teams stay aligned. But this ritual also provides a satisfying end to the work day. Each team member can leave the office with a sense of accomplishment, both individually and as a team.

Want to learn more about making great decisions as a team? Come to Struktur Event in Portland on April 25–27, 2017, where we’ll be giving a talk called “How to Make Better Decisions as a Team.” Many thanks to the attendees who shared a version of this ritual with us at an Ask The Sherwins Live Q&A at Crop’s September 2016 meetup in Raleigh.