Making decisions with a coin flip

Yesterday I was in a meeting — and it came to the point of the meeting when one of the parties in the room had to commit to documenting what we had talked about and sharing the notes with the other party. This moment in a meeting is always a bit amusing. Both parties want to make sure good notes are created after the meeting, but neither side really wants to step up to add more work onto their plate. We’re all busy, and yet we all want to make sure there is written documentation of the good progress we made in the meeting.

So yesterday when it came to that point, we decided it the old-fashioned way: a coin flip. I can’t even recall who suggested the coin-flip, and I believe the comment was made somewhat in jest. But then we looked at each other in the eye and both agreed. Ok, we’ll decide based on a coin flip. No harm, no foul.

The other party provided the coin and did the flipping honors. “Heads” would mean that Punchbowl would be responsible for delivering the document (yep, that means me). With bated breath the coin was flipped….. TAILS!


Yes, I admit that it wasn’t the most formal way to resolve the issue, but you know something? It worked. I would have gladly taken responsiblity if it had come up Heads. But I’m sure glad it came up tails! Next time you need to resolve this kind of situation, use the coin flip. It works.


2 Responses to Making decisions with a coin flip

  1. Jim says:

    Here’s a neat, if not tangential, trick:

    If you’re not sure which of two options you want (say, chinese or greek for dinner, or something more important). Flip a coin. BUT, instead of relying on what was flipped, think about how you *felt* when you saw the answer. “Heads means greek food, sigh” is a clear indication of your true thoughts.

    … works even better if you do it to someone else. Flip the coin and look in their eyes for their answer.

  2. Sam says:

    I actually try to be the one who volunteers to write up the meeting notes and decisions made, even though it means more work. It’s a great opportunity to frame the memory of the conversation and remind people of what they’ve committed to (especially when they weren’t so eager to commit).

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