by James D. Roumeliotis
Face it! Like it or not you are defined by the decisions you make. Think of successful organizations and the people responsible for guiding their authority and well-being. Often, high performance is the result of an executive choosing the right move at the right time. It’s not purely a lucky streak. Corporate strategy is not “Black Jack” nor 5-card stud poker.
Decision-making is a complex activity and at times a long process. Your ability to identify and excel in your decision-making tasks will greatly increase the chances that the choices you make will have a strong and positive impact on your organization. Why take any additional risks when you know instinctively that this is the case to sound growth and prosperity?
Where to begin in contemplation
Your first step is to understand the external and internal factors that affect decision-making, from aspects of the organizational environment to your personal decision-making preferences. While you aren’t always able to control these influences, recognizing and identifying these factors will enable you to take them into consideration as you strive to achieve the best decision outcome.
Every day you make sense of what goes on around you by interpreting what you see and hear, taking into account your past experiences, values, needs, attitudes, and goals. Even your understanding of what another person says is only an estimate, as you can never completely share the viewpoint of someone else concerning the world.
Given the increasing complexity of organizational life, along with the quantity of information that must be processed, it is no wonder executives too often experience stress as they strive to balance agendas and please many of their people.
It can happen that you put a lot of time and effort into a decision study or a formal analysis, only to be disappointed in the results. When this happens, you need to re-evaluate both the information that went into the analysis including your expectations.
On the one hand, no process is any better than the information that goes into it and when you get a result that your experience suggests may be flawed or biased, this is a strong indication to probe.
On the other hand, it’s extremely tempting to tinker with the data until you receive a result that you’re happier with ─ but this is a form of deception that can lead to an adverse outcome. In this case, it helps to remind yourself to maintain a high standard of accuracy and objectivity and to seek a reality check from someone whose judgment you respect and who’s not personally involved in the decision.
The decisions you make are only as good as the process you use to make them. Asking yourself the following questions will help you to assess whether or not you are on the right track:
- Have I done adequate research and gathered all of the appropriate information for the subject matter at hand?
- Have I considered all of the stakeholders and their probable responses to various decision outcomes?
- Have I been honest in assessing my own decision making style and taken that into account?
- Have I recognized and acknowledged my personal agendas and bias?
- Have I considered the various options available to me in selecting the most appropriate decision making method?
- Have I solicited the advice and assistance that was required?
- Am I prepared to be accountable for the consequences of the decisions I make?
You have the responsibility for making decisions that deeply affect your employees’ performance, morale and your organization’s future. You cannot afford to rely on personal preferences or hunches alone.
Now that you are familiar with some practical, yet highly effective approaches offered here, your challenge is to develop a positive future possible through the decisions that you make today.
Your decisions are only as good as the information you use to make them. The cliché “Garbage in, garbage out” applies here. Your ability to recognize bias and evaluate the reliability and validity of the information you gather can make a tremendous difference in the effectiveness of your decisions.