Better Decision Making

Recently, a client asked me a seemingly simple question: “How can we make better decisions faster?” After much thought and talking myself towards a reasonable answer, I came up with some answers similar to the ones Tony explains in this linked article (although Tony probably says them better!)

But I had three additional keys that I’d like to share with you:

1) Do I need to make this decision now? 

Often a situation will thrust its way into our lives and we will feel compelled to make decisions with an equal amount of alacrity. However, a snap decision is not always required, or warranted. If it can wait a day, take a day. If you have a week, use the time to your advantage.

This is not to suggest that you should succumb to “paralysis by analysis,” but rather that you give the topic the consideration that is due and then decide. Another name for a fast, bad decision is “bad decision.”

2) Is it my decision to make?

I refer to this as “out-thinking the future.” Sometimes we want to “spare” someone the trouble of making a decision or create false value by saying “it’s just easier if I decide.” But if it isn’t your decision, you need to pass it on to the correct person. Your reticence may be pointing to other related issues that you need to deal with.

For example, are you making a decision that rightfully belongs to a junior team member because you suspect that you have not properly trained that individual or shared information that could influence that decision? If so, you might want to deal with your communication and development issues, or you will never be able to allow those decisions to be made at the appropriate level.

3) Am I focusing on the result more than the decision?

Although this point plays a role in our personal lives, I am specifically thinking of it in terms of an organization. Even though most of us are driven by the imperative to “do the right thing,” we might make less than optimal decisions because we think that implementing the “right” decision may be too hard, too messy, too confusing, or too expensive.

On one level, my response is “Well, that’s just too bad. Right is right.” But let’s throw in a healthy dose of reality and pragmatism here and acknowledge that time, cost, and difficulty are real issues that need to be considered. Therefore, my more nuanced response is, “use your tools.”

Today’s smaller organization has access to a robust suite of desktop and cloud-based tools that allow you to pre-plan and automate key aspects of your organization such as workflow execution, collaboration, and task management. Therefore, opportunities exist for you to use workflows to shepherd the results of your decisions along the right path and through the right hands until the process is complete and your vision is implemented.

So make a good decision now, and give us call to better understand what this can mean for your organization.