- Mind Over Matter
- 8 Months ago
Effective Decision Making
All of us have to make decisions of some sort every day. And we spend a lot of our time mulling over our decisions. Some decisions are relatively straightforward and simple: Is this report ready to send to my boss now? Others are quite complex: Which of these candidates should I select for the job?
Good decision making is an essential skill for career success generally, and effective leadership particularly. If you can learn to make timely and well-considered decisions, then you can often lead yourself and your team to spectacular and well-deserved success.
A Systematic Approach to Decision Making:
A logical and systematic decision-making process helps you address the critical elements that result in a good decision. By taking an organized approach, you're less likely to miss important factors, and you can build on the approach to make your decisions better and better. Here is a 6 step approach to assist you in decision making.
1) Identify the purpose of your decision.
Define what you want to achieve. The first step here is to break down the issue at hand to basics. Understand the issue first; its causes and its contributing factors, so when it comes to making a decision you will have clarity with regards to which option is the best decision to pursue.
If your task involves other people, make sure you involve them in the decision making process. Allow their opinions to be heard and agree on the process (how the final decision will be made, including whether it will be an individual or a team-based decision).
2) Generate good alternatives.
This step is critical to making an effective decision. The more good options you consider the more comprehensive your final decision will be. When you generate alternatives, you force yourself to dig deeper and look at the problem from different angles. If you use the mindset ‘there must be other solutions out there', you're more likely to make the best decision possible. If you don't have reasonable alternatives, then there's really not much of a decision to make.
• Be creative right from the start. The basis of creativity is thinking from a different perspective.
• Generate ideas by brainstorming. Don't be afraid to consider different perspectives. What might come across as bizarre first can turn out to be an original and well crafted solution.
• Be sure to keep track of or organize your ideas. This is especially helpful when you have a large number of ideas. Sometimes separate ideas can be combined into one comprehensive alternative.
3) Explore the alternatives.
When you're satisfied and know that you have a good selection of realistic alternatives, you will then need to evaluate the feasibility, risks, and implications of each choice. Use your standards and judgment criteria to determine the pros and cons of each alternative. Consider and compare these - consult if necessary - it probably will be.
In decision making, there's usually some degree of uncertainty, which inevitably leads to risk. By evaluating the risk involved with various options, you can determine whether the risk is manageable.
Be sure to validate if resources for each alternative are adequate, if the solution matches your objectives, and if the decision is likely to work in the long term.
4) Choose the best alternative.
After you have evaluated the alternatives, the next step is to choose between them. Select the best option - avoid vagueness or 'foot in both camps' compromise. Don't choose an option based on its convenience but for its effectiveness. Be sure of your choice. If not, go through step 3 again until the right option becomes obvious to you.
5) Evaluate your decision.
With all of the effort and hard work that goes into evaluating alternatives, and deciding the best way forward, it's easy to forget to ‘sense check' your decisions. This is where you look at the decision you're about to make dispassionately, to make sure that your process has been thorough, and to ensure that common errors haven't crept into the decision-making0process.
You can run tests hypothetically or methodically on your decision and review and explore any doubts you might have before finalizing this.
6) Communicate your decision and move to action.
Once you've made your decision, it's important to explain it to those affected by it, and involved in implementing it. Talk about why you chose the alternative you did. The more information you provide about risks and projected benefits, the more likely people are to support the decision.
Now transform your decision into specific plan of action steps and execute your plan. Follow up to ensure proper and effective implementation.
An organized and systematic decision-making process usually leads to better decisions. Without a well-defined process, you risk making decisions that are based on insufficient information and analysis. Many variables may affect the final impact of your decision.
However, if you establish strong foundations for decision making, generate good alternatives, evaluate these alternatives rigorously, and then check your decision-making process, you will improve the quality of your decisions.
You will make good timely decisions; and will save a lot of time!