by Terry Daugherty, DDS

A step-by-step guide to arriving at solutions you can work with

Doctors, what about those decisions you make? Making good decisions is essential for effective leaders. Peter Drucker says, “A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong. It is at best a choice between ‘almost right’ and ‘probably wrong’—but much more often a choice between two courses of action, neither of which is probably more nearly right than the other.”

Consider this: Do you have a process for making decisions? Use this process to ensure that most of your decisions are “almost right”!

What Is the Situation/Problem?

Determine whether to make a written analysis of this problem in your decision-making process. The bigger the decision, the more reason to write it out! Otherwise, just “scratch-pad” it.

What Are My Objectives?

What do I want to achieve? How does this decision fit in the short term and in the long term?

When and Who?

When do I need to make this decision? Do I need to make this decision, or should it be made by someone else who I have empowered to do so? Who will be touched by this decision?

What Are My Options?

Evaluate the options. What are the consequences, both positive and negative, of each option in terms of people, time, and finances? What are the short- and long-term implications of each option? Which best meets your core objectives and culture?


Do you need to involve others, for either their opinions, feedback, or buy-in? Be sure not to create a “behind their back” situation.


After deciding and before taking action, assess whether it feels right. Trust your intuition. Be sure you are not just avoiding potential or perceived conflict that might come with change.


What are the timelines and results milestones? With whom do I need to communicate?


How and when will I know that this is a good decision? Have all of my objectives been met? Do I need to make adjustments?

Terry Daugherty, DDS, is an orthodontist and co-founder of and partner in Daugherty Consulting . He has spoken at several AAO Annual Sessions. He can be reached at or through the Web site