On Decision-Making: Sleep On It

December 15, 2006

When you run a small business or you work in teams, you have a lot of decisions to make. Reaching conclusions can be really challenging sometimes and exchanges can get heated.

Here at FreshBooks we are consensus builders. Ideas come from anyone and everyone, and no one’s point of view is a safe from attack. This way of decision making can present challenges though, mainly because it is impossible to get everyone to agree all the time. So, one thing we learned a long time ago – back when it was just Joe and I building the business, and both of us are fairly determined to see our points of view through – is we learned to say, “Ok…let’s sleep on it”.

We resort to “let’s sleep on it” as soon as we feel we have exhausted the productivity of a conversation. This happens frequently in meetings and via email discussions. Recognizing that moment when your discussion ceases to be productive is a skill and it can be honed over time. For us the upside of “sleeping on it” is that invariably we come – as a group – to the right decision the next day…which may be a mix of two or more points of view. Better still when we do decide, everyone feels they had some ownership of the outcome.

In decision making it is rare that you have to make a decision RIGHT NOW, so don’t be afraid to sleep on it.

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.