How to Make Good Decisions
As our last two blogs have discussed, making decisions is an activity we perform continually but it is rarely a clear cut, purely rational process. Between managing cognitive biases, emotional reactions and the sheer volume of choices available, making a decision can become quite an endeavor.
The decisions made by leaders have significant implications for their organizations. They influence the company’s success and shape company culture. And so it makes sense for leaders to learn how to strengthen their decision making skills.
The following suggestions will help.
Collect information: Taking time to gather relevant research and data regarding the issue at hand will ensure your decision is an informed one. Pull from multiple sources when gathering information and be sure to investigate how the decision will impact different stakeholders in the organization.
Manage your biases: Once you have come to a conclusion, make a list of the factors that led you to that decision. This will help you identify if there is any bias in the decision making process. Then question those biases with an analysis of what information you might be disregarding and if you are giving the appropriate amount of attention to the various factors at play.
Don’t make decisions in a vacuum: Great leaders surround themselves with advisors. This allows for an expanded pool of information and knowledge and makes it easier to catch any biases that have snuck into the decision making process. This only works when you have cultivated a culture where participants can freely express their views without fear of negative reprisals. It also requires that you as a leader are humble enough to concede that others may know more than you.
Allow time for big decisions: There is some value to the old advice that says you should “sleep on it” before committing to action. In other words, make time for big decisions. This means you can’t postpone big decisions. Otherwise, you’ll be pressured to decide at the last minute. Once you have identified a major decision on the horizon, schedule time to gather information, meet with those who will be impacted, and ponder the various options.
Remember your values: Values are an organization’s North Star, providing direction for every aspect of the company. Values based decisions expedite the decision making process and keep the company on track. Values based decisions are typically more clear and easier for stakeholders to understand. They reinforce the company culture you want to promote and engender trust and credibility from stakeholders. This, in turn strengthens motivation and engagement. Checking for value alignment as you consider various options should be a routine component of the decision making process.
Should you decide to give your decision making process some attention? We think so. Let us know if we can help!