Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs

When decision making, there is this wisdom from Proverbs and also multiple references for seeking wise counsel.  Problem is, the Father’s direction isn’t always clear and petitioning a team of elders in every day-to-day decision probably isn’t practical.

A small company that I managed for a while, would often gather the wise counsel of others in larger decision making.  In fact, this blog began as an email that collected the wise counsel of a few interested parties during some challenging times.  We would, of course, always pray, but also take the cues from Proverbs and get other sage wisdom “in the room” before we pulled the trigger on the most substantive decisions.

In many of our smaller day-to-day decisions, we realized there was a relatively consistent set of boundaries or filters that we were applying to the things we decided:

  1. Does it align with our culture? (Purpose, Values, Mission)
  2. Does it align with current strategic plans/goals?
  3. Do we have the resources? (People, Time, Money)
  4. What are the unintended consequences of the decision?
  5. Does it simplify or complicate?

These were posted on the conference room wall where the leadership team met and had their weekly tactical meeting as well as frequent strategic meetings.  We eventually added another about measuring the results of the decisions made as a way of testing what was decided.

These five filters were formed out of necessity over time.  There were often ideas from general business practices or an industry group that conflicted with our culture.  Team members would repeatedly come up with great ideas that we simply didn’t have the resources for and seemed to impede or distract from current strategic focus and initiatives.  We were always looking to simplify and do our best to ferret out any unintended consequences before changes were cast.

Those filters seem pretty simple and logical, right?  But there are some very important things that are necessary to execute on this idea:

  • You need to have a leadership team that is involved in decision-making for your organization.
  • They need to meet on a regular basis.
  • There needs to be a clear and consistent culture to the organization (established and owned; purpose, values, mission).
  • There needs to be conversant understanding and buy-in of current strategic plans and goals (leadership should be involved in setting these).
  • The organization needs margin in financial and tangible resources… and people’s time.
  • There needs to be a desire by ownership and leadership to simplify the work and lives of the team members they lead.

We should always pray and when practical, get the counsel of others before we make key decisions in our life and leadership.  But there needs to be a set of boundaries or filters that we consistently pass all our day-to-day decisions through.

  • Do you know what filters you are regularly applying to the decisions you make?  Are they written down and understood?
  • Do you have a defined leadership team helping in that process or are you pretty much leading alone?
  • What is the next thing you need to do in order to roll out this filtering process for the organizations you lead?