Good management is about making clear and timely decisions so that the business runs smoothly and profitably with as little disruption and drama as possible; however, three common deterrents often cloud decision-making: doubt, fear, and lack of structure.
Making decisions as you work on your business is a thoughtful process. During that process, it’s natural for doubt to creep into your thinking. Why? Because decisions – by definition – deal with the unknown and the future. Doubts are nagging feelings of uncertainty, where you may question a belief or hesitate to act. Is this the right decision? Am I being too hasty? Doubts make us uncomfortable and make us feel anxious about moving forward. They can delay arriving at a decision – or acting on a decision once it’s been made.
Many managers are afraid to make decisions – especially the more difficult, higher‐stakes, or important ones. This, too, is natural. But when analysis paralysis slips in, decisions get put off or never made at all as you try to answer the all-important question: “What will happen if I’m wrong?” The fear of failure or some unintended consequence slams the door on action. A wiser man than I once said: “We don’t make bad decisions; we just learn to make newer, better ones.” Refining our decision‐making is part of becoming a mature human, as well as a sign of a more mature company.
Some managers don’t make well-thought-out decisions because they have no structure for making them – whether small or large decisions. There are lots of good books on decision-making, and nearly all of them recommend establishing criteria and following a process. In other words, knowing or learning “how” to come to a decision is most of the struggle.
These three simple steps will help:
- Clearly identify the problem, challenge, or opportunity
- Identify the possible actions to take (including desired results and potential risks)
- Design a framework for taking responsibility for the actions (who, when, why)
This is not an easy process because many decisions (especially the ones with enterprise impact) are hard to make. But though the process isn’t easy, it is simple — even for large decisions.
Navigate Management Consulting has created a short worksheet of 12 basic questions to help guide the process when there are complexities involved in making a decision. Please contact us if you would like a free copy of the worksheet or need assistance with pending or troublesome business decisions on the horizon.
Watch for Part Two of this topic next week. In the meantime, ask yourself: “What decision do I have to make in the next three months?” Let us know your answer at email@example.com. –Brad Malone, Navigate Management Consulting (an NSCA Member Advisory Council member)