Is It Soup Yet? How To Know when It’s Time to Decide and Move On

by | Aug 15, 2016

34808265_mYou want to make a sound, thoughtful decision but it’s a tough one.  How do you know when you have given adequate consideration? How do you know when it’s time to decide and move on?  An executive that I work with calls that question, “Is it soup yet?” Have you collected all the ingredients and let them simmer appropriately? Or have you missed an ingredient or over-cooked the soup?

In a workshop with association executives, we collectively created this list of decision-making ingredients and indicators of determining that “it’s soup.” First, however, you need to recognize your natural decision-making tendency. Are you naturally a decider or a discusser?

Deciders tend toward fast decisions and may have a tendency to skip ingredients or not simmer the soup long enough.  When that happens, you miss valuable input or you make a decision that isn’t thought through as well as it should be.

Discussers tend to collaborate extensively and may have a tendency to endlessly seek out more ingredients or over-cook the soup.  When that happens, opportunities are missed due to excessive delays. It’s analysis-paralysis or an intense need to get consensus from all.

You need to know if you are more discusser or decider because that tendency will push you in a particular direction and you will have to balance that with thoughtfulness.

With that background, here is a list of typical ingredients that go into the soup for a big decision:


  • Trends
  • Benefits
  • Costs
  • Resources
  • Timeline
  • Mission relevance
  • Expectations
  • Strategic goal alignment
  • Analysis
  • Perceptions
  • Risk

Once you have the ingredients, most decisions (except for those that are urgent such as in a crisis) need some time to meld – like a good soup. How do you know if the decision needs to simmer?

Let it simmer:

  • More information is reasonably available that could sway the decision.
  • Risk level of the decision will be reduced by waiting.
  • The variables in the decision are changing.
  • Crucial conversations and buy-in have not happened yet.
  • Hidden agendas need more investigation.
  • Lack of clarity on ramifications of the decision.
  • The current situation is too emotional and needs time to calm down.
  • A decision now will create conflict later that could be avoided by waiting.
  • There are more pressing decisions to consider now.
  • There is no downside to delaying the decision.
  • There is no financial loss/gain by waiting.
  • The data is not trustworthy.
  • The decision feels reactionary

On the other hand, you don’t want to delay the decision unnecessarily. That is like an over-cooked soup where ingredients have become mush.  How do you know when you’ve reach that point where it’s time for the decision?

It’s Soup:

  • I have all the information I can reasonably get in the timeframe available.
  • Additional input is unlikely to change the decision.
  • There is a deadline for action.
  • I have input from all key people.
  • I have an appropriate level of consensus.
  • The situation is too painful and frustration is too great to wait longer.
  • The situation will not change or may deteriorate by waiting.
  • An opportunity will be missed by waiting.
  • Research is decisive.
  • Delay would cause a cost increase that would outweigh the benefits.
  • The risk level will stay the same or increase by waiting.
  • You just know that it’s time to decide.

Lastly, go back to your natural tendency and take steps to balance it with thoughtfulness.  For natural discussers, you may need to push yourself to a decision before you are completely comfortable.  For natural deciders, you may need to hold back on a decision for more simmering even though it feels uncomfortable.

Now you’ve got the recipe for balanced decision-making. Soup’s on!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Author Byline: Founder and CEO of Blue Fjord Leaders, Shelley Row P.E. CSP, was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 100 leadership speakers. Professional engineer and former senior executive, she was recognized as one of the best minds in advanced traffic management systems.

Recommended Reading

3 Components of Judgment: Are You Using All of Them?

3 Components of Judgment: Are You Using All of Them?

Good Judgment Empowers Leadership Teams — Here's How to Use Information, Experience & Gut Feel when Making Decisions “You weren’t promoted for your technical skills. You were promoted for your judgment.”  That’s what my boss told me shortly after my promotion into...

Emotionless Leadership Hinders Effectiveness … Do This Instead

Emotionless Leadership Hinders Effectiveness … Do This Instead

In leadership positions it’s inevitable that situations arise and provoke emotional reactions. Some emotions are low grade but others are like five-alarm fires. We are taught to suppress our emotions in the workplace in order to be seen as credible, strong and...

Leadership Insights Newsletter with Shelley Row

Get stories on leadership, decision-making, and personal & professional development.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Featured Blog Posts

Get a Free Copy of

The Handbook for Technical Leaders

Ten Top Skills for Managers