How do you approach decision-making?

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Every day in and outside of business we are faced with a range of crucial decisions, some small, none the less important, and others challenging and significant.

As a leader the only perfect decision I have made or seen are those made with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight.  There is no such thing as a perfect decision for a variety of reasons; for a start the information is not perfect, it is usually a blend of fact, assumption, and opinions. There is also the impact of our individual model of the world and how things should be that can add bias to the decision making process.

The reason I raise this is that in a recent leadership program, a leadership group raised a decision that was facing them and indicated they were going to apply the much used “pros and cons” approach to reach a critical decision that would impact future outcomes for their division.

I suggested an alternative approach which was to map all of the potential decision options.  Two things to note; there are usually eight to ten decision options available, don’t stop until you find them, you may have to dig for them. The other point is don’t dismiss those ideas that might be regarded as radical as it is these options that often become the catalyst for other more workable options to be generated.

The next step is to take each decision option and consider the positive and negative consequences of actioning each one. When they are mapped, step back and assess what you are trading off in reaching your optimum decision. In our work with senior managers, they all report the need for some level of trade-off in reaching any decision.

Once the three levels of options, consequences and trade-offs are mapped and discussed, people applying this method report the choices are clear.  Out of interest the leadership group decided to try both methods, they reported our suggested alternative to the ‘pros and cons’ approach produced a more effective decision that was better quality and more widely accepted and supported. Not only that, they were better able to use the available resources more effectively.

Vivente provides Leadership Coaching In Sydney, Australia. Phone +61 2 8211 2771.