‘The Kennedy Tapes - Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis' is a verbatim account of all meetings that President Kennedy had with his advisers in mid-October 1962 in response to the Soviet Union installing nuclear missiles in Cuba - thus threatening the world with nuclear war.
Kennedy’s first meeting is a lesson in good decision-making.
He called together 12 advisers.
His advisers spoke 285 times.
The President spoke 66 times - mostly no longer than a sentence.
The first 11 times he spoke he asked questions and listened to the answers.
The first non-question from him was ‘Thank you’.
He then asked 21 more questions - a total of 32 questions - before making a statement.
His first statement to the meeting was a summary of the information that had been given to him.
He then asked six more questions and listened to each answer.
His 40th statement was ‘Well now, let’s decide what we ought to be doing’.
His asked nine more questions.
He made four asides.
His 54th statement was to ask that the meeting reconvene later in the evening.
He made three more statements.
He followed these with six questions.
Then two statements, a question, two statements, four more questions, one statement.
He ended with a question.
President Kennedy, the most powerful man in the world, facing a decision that could result in nuclear armageddon, asked four times as many questions as he made statements.
The only decision that he made was that they should have another meeting.