Three Questions to Ask in Any Decision-making Circumstance


The team was at a standstill. Ted and Jo Ellen, two members of the team were ready to charge ahead with a decision that the other three members were not ready to make. Fred and Jonathon held a totally opposite position on the decision to be made. Sam, the remaining member just wasn’t sure. Sam could see both points of view, but was cautiously leery of leading the organization down either path.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Perhaps your organization is at a pivotal point in its life. One decision would be risky and could turn out to be very costly to the organization, and not only financially. It could bring the organization to its knees, to the breaking point. The other option appears to have no risks. No changes required. It leads the organization down a seemingly safe, secure path. The major downside to this decision would be almost certain no growth, a status quo path which could lead to the organization’s demise.

These situations can be overwhelmingly difficult. Yet, there are three questions that can be used in any decision making circumstance, that if answered genuinely, will lead you to the right decision for you (or your organization) at the specific time needed. These same three questions can be used in your personal life, on a particular team you serve, or an entire large corporation or church of any size.

These three Questions that can be used in any decision making circumstance when asked in this order are;

  1. If we (I) proceed with this decision, what is the absolute best outcome we can expect?
  2. If we (I) proceed with his decision, what is the absolute worst outcome that could happen?
  3. Are we (Am I) willing to (can we afford to) live with the outcome of number 2?

Question one asks for the absolute best outcome. The absolute best: We see phenomenal growth far exceeding our expectations. That is truly the best outcome for any organization.

Question two asks the antithesis of the first question. If we make this decision what is the absolute worst outcome? We go bankrupt and close the doors on the organization. (Not all decisions will bankrupt an organization, this is used here for demonstration purposes only)

Another analogy would be going on a diet. The best outcome, I lose weight, feel better and avoid certain diseases later in life. The worst outcome, continue to feel worn out, overweight, and sluggish.

Once these two questions are genuinely answered we must ask ourselves (whether it is a personal decision or a team/organizational decision) the third question. First, realize there is no need to ask if we can live with the results of the first question, because it is the absolute best outcome. Certainly, we can live with the best outcome.

Therefore, question number three is asked in regard to our answer to question two. Can we afford to and are we willing to live with the results to question number two? Are we willing to risk bankrupting the organization? Believe it or not there are times when the answer to this would be “Yes!”

Many individuals, churches, and other business organizations are fearful of asking question number three. Instead, they retreat and try to find another way out of this decision-making process. Usually to the demise of any real forward movement.

What decision needs to be made in your life (organization)? Are you willing to put these three to the test?

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