Making good decisions

Last week, we discussed how you can rate the quality of your decision- making. We considered the importance of making decisions even in tricky or tough situations.

We also shared examples of situations where making a decision can be really difficult but that we still ought to make the decision. However, we did not share guidelines on the ‘HOW’ of making good decisions. In other words, you are equipped to rate how good your decisions are.

But, if you find out that your decision-making processes need improving, then how do you go about that transformational journey to become a good decision-maker? Below are the five steps you need to take in order to make good decisions.

1.         Understand the issue: The starting point of making a good decision is the clear understanding of the root issue that you are making a decision on. You need to clearly define the issue and thoroughly understand it.

2.         Deal with the emotions: Many of us get overtaken by emotions while making decisions and in the end we make the wrong decisions. You need to remove the emotions and only focus on the facts on the ground. Even the people around you or involved in analysis or advising you as you make the decision need to be removed from emotions. There should be not even a fraction of emotions in making your decisions. However, having said that, in practice I believe that you should still pay caution to sensitivities. Sensitivities are different from emotions. Emotions are about how you feel. Sensitivities are about how the decision may be perceived by others based on diversity differences, ‘political’ perceptions etc. This would inform not only what decision you take but how you manage the timing, structuring and framing of the actual decision. It is an art that you master along the way through doing it multiple times.

3.         Gather enough information: There are two extremes when it comes to the amount of information you have before you make a decision. On the one end is the case where you make a decision while you have very little information. You are bound to make a wrong decision. You need enough information to have a better chance of making a good decision. On the other end of the spectrum is the scenario where you are waiting to have all or too much information. It takes so much effort, so much resources and so much time to arrive at that stage. In the end, you may make the perfect decision but it is likely to be too late. Collin Powell says you should have a minimum of 40 percent and a maximum of 70 percent of all information to make a good decision and in time.

4.         Weigh the options: Never make a decision based on a single option. Be wary of people that ask you to make a decision when they give you a single option. If you can, look at five then reduce to three top options and come down until you have two best options. Think deep and outside the box to have multiple options from which you can choose the one that gives you the best promise. In doing this analysis, you need to also consider what each option brings as discussed in (5) below.

5.         Consider the risks and rewards: Each of the options offers you some rewards and also comes with some risks. You need to weigh both the rewards and risks. Do not look at them in isolation. Most times, the most rewarding options have greater risks. When you have an option that gives you the best rewards and has minimal risks, jump at it without wasting time. However, when you have options with great rewards and high risks, spend time on how you will mitigate and manage the risks. If you have a good risk management plan, you can proceed with that option, otherwise you may need to consider the less risky options with lower levels of rewards. Good luck as you work to implement this tested approach to making good decisions. If you do this, you will surely rise and shine!

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