Decision Making

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Decision Making is all about that thing that challenges us day in, day out. How to make the right decision. And how often has this activity been so tough, that no decision at all is the outcome!

Yet it need not be this way. Many people make Decision Making much harder than necessary. In this page we try to put some of those mysteries to bed and give you some clues for the way forward.

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Top Ten Things About Decision Making

To keep momentum and pace, you have to be good at Decision Making…yet it is easy to be very challenged with it. For those who find it easy, this would be the way they see it…

The best at Decision Making

  1. Capture Information
    They are good at understanding the appropriate level of information they need. Not too much (or they never decide) and not too little (or the risk of making the wrong decision is too great).
  2. Have a Focus
    Their Decision Making is based on some clear criteria for their whole business or organisational map. One good one is ‘Is this a value-creating outcome?’
  3. Take Their Time
    Good decision makers decide when the time is just right. Sometimes in the moment, other times after consideration. And even sleep on it, maybe, when pushed by others and then, sometimes, owners of the issue make their own decision in the meantime.
  4. Keep Others Informed
    When a decision is pending, good decision makers keep those involved in the input and outcomes of the decision in the loop. They value those people by following through and communicating well.
  5. Aren’t Afraid
    And decisions are there to be made and not ‘toyed’ with. Prevarication here is often the worst option. Worse even than making the wrong decision…and is one of the biggest frustrations to those involved.
  6. Involve Others
    By working with others in a constructive way, the together decisiveness builds confidence in the leader. Often, as part of the information gathering cycle, opinions are sought as information and valued. Ideas off the wall from others, can regularly provide the best decision – so they do not miss the opportunity.
  7. Are Accountable
    Through making the best decision at the time, great decision makers know they, and they alone are accountable. That is the role they have chosen and the burden they carry – no one else gets the blame.
  8. Know Their Limits
    Sometimes decisions are outside the scope of a manager. The best one’s know where the boundary of their decision making lies and pitch their level of accountability accordingly.
  9. Show Commitment
    Once the decision is made, the best decision makers stick with it with their full energy and focus. Making a decision and not following through is the worst possible sort of decision.
  10. Learn from Mistakes
    Reviewing the performance of a decision is a vital part of developing and honing those skills. Great decision makers develop a formal or informal process with which to measure the calibre of their Decision Making outcomes.

Ten Ways to be Better at Decision Making

  1. Research
    Ensure that you have listened well and researched all possibilities within the appropriate timeframe. It’s not just direct – listen very well for the unsaid too.
  2. Be Calm
    Decisions are best made with a cool head and if you respond poorly ‘in the moment’, take a step back and make thinking space for yourself.
  3. Value Others
    Build a team of others, whose opinion you can seek for it’s capacity for honesty, impartiality and the understanding that you are not to be influenced unduly. This takes time and relationship building skills.
  4. Don’t Sweat Too Much
    Keep the decisions you make in context. Clearly if there are serious implications, take the relevant amount of time. If less critical, make the decision!
  5. Let Others Decide
    To create time for yourself, free others to make decisions at their own level. You do not want to be in control of everything. This is one of the biggest wasters of time for many managers.
  6. Forgive
    ‘Ask for forgiveness, not permission’. This is about you and your people. Everyone makes the best stab at making the very best decisions – but if it doesn’t go perfectly, be gentle and allow failures. If you or they have done the best possible, learn from where it wasn’t perfect, for the next time.
  7. Keep Perspective
    Big decisions, small decisions – make sure that you see them for what they are and don’t lie awake at nights. There are enough bigger things in the world to worry about than the colour of new paintwork.
  8. Explain Why
    And when you make a decision, be clear on why, especially if it involves others. Make sure you have relevant answers.
  9. The Basis
    Basing your decisions on firm ground will make many of them easier. You may have a series of standards which you go by, or published rules. Sometimes it will be about, quite simply, ‘Is it a fair and reasonable thing to do?’ or Is this a value-creating thing to do?’ etc.
  10. Be Honest
    If it all goes wrong, it’s time to hold your hands up and change your mind – not too often, but for the right reasons, this is OK. It truly is.

5 Simple Actions You Can Take Today!

  • Look at decisions you’ve made in the last week and consider how suitable they were.
  • Look out for decisions you’ve been hanging on to for a while. Ask yourself what it would take to make those decisions today? And what, having made those decisions, you will gain.
  • For each time you are asked to make a decision today, consider whether someone else could have made it. What would enable that to happen?
  • Make no snap decisions today. Give each one 24 hours – without fail – then decide. What value was there in this?
  • Think of a decision you made that was ‘wrong’ in the past. What did you learn from it?

Read some great books – like:-

“Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” – Brian Tracy
“Decision Traps: Ten Barriers to Brilliant Decision-Making and How to Overcome Them” – Ed Russo & Paul J.H. Schoemaker
“Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions” – John Hammond, Ralph Keeney & Howard Raiffa