Entrepreneur Helps Lawyers Make Their Best Decisions

An Interview with Don Marushka, author of How Great Decisions Get Made

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Did you know that when faced with tough decisions, parts of your brain actually shuts down? Luckily, there’s a way to systemically retrain your brain’s decision-making power so that you’re ready to make great and smarter decisions.

The process works something like developing human software to override your brain’s programmed settings. Don Maruska, author of How Great Decisions Get Made, has developed a proven methodology that allows people to keep fear and emotional factors from undermining decision making and to effectively examine the pros and cons of every issue.

It involves ten steps that begin with enlisting everyone who should be involved in the issue, then guiding them through the process of uncovering the real issue, along with people’s true hopes for the outcome. His methodology gets all options on the table, maps solutions, and  keeps everyone charged up around the issue. The process is particularly powerful for reaching agreement with others even in the most challenging situations, but can also be used by individuals.

Don Maruska has founded and was CEO of three Silicon Valley companies. He has also been a venture investor in start-ups that have become public companies. Don is now a Master Certified Coach and the author of How Great Decisions Get Made, which boasts a forward by Margaret Wheatley (American Management Association, 2004). He is also the co-author of Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life with Jay Perry with a forward by Jim Kouzes (Berrett-Koehler, 2013), which serves high-growth firms and Fortune 500 companies.

Don earned his Bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Harvard University and his MBA and JD from Stanford University, and has previously led projects for McKinsey & Company. He is also the recipient of the National Innovators Award, presented by 3M.

What made you realize that people weren't always making the best decisions they could make?

I saw that how people approached decision making made a huge difference in the outcomes.

For example, I found that using a better decision method yielded a $60,000 gain in my return on a business transaction. As an entrepreneur, I thought, "Wow, this really works! Let's see how we can apply this more broadly."

What's makes your methodology different and successful?

It's beyond "getting to yes," which assumes differing interests and a negotiating framework.  The proven methodology in How Great Decisions Get Made elevates participants from the adversarial paradigm. It enables participants to discover shared hopes, uncover the real issues, and discuss them in ways that openly share both the negatives and positives of each option. Through this approach, participants frequently invent new, more effective solutions together. Importantly, they build a foundation of shared understanding to support successful implementation of their decisions.

How could your methodology impact lawyers?

Many lawyers are stuck in the adversarial paradigm. They position themselves like the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum battling with their opponents. In reality, what their clients really need are problem solvers who can help them build better relationships and successful implementation with others.

Lawyers can definitely benefit from my ten-step methodology.

Say I can't decide whether or not I want to go to law school - how could I employ your methodology to decide?

You can easily apply the decision process. Simply find someone who will ask you the 10 questions in the process. This person needs to be a good listener who reflects back what you say so that you can hear how your thinking sounds. You can accomplish this process within about one hour. At that point, you should know whether law school is the right choice for you, and you will be able to make a sound decision before diving in.