Decision Making – The Lost Art

DecisionMakingChocolate or vanilla? Regular or black coffee? Every day we make many decisions – most unconsciously. Such choices are easy to make, and usually not worth a second thought, which is good because there is not enough time to go through the pros and cons for every decision we need to make. But there are some decisions that we need to take time to consider carefully if we are to get the best outcome.

Making the best decision in a timely manner is a skill. This means reaching the most accurate choice or conclusion based on the knowledge that is available; and, doing it in a realistic time frame, by a deadline either real or arbitrary.

Here are a few tips to help you make the best decision in a timely manner:

  • Be comfortable with asking questions and gathering information.
  • It is okay not to have all the answers.
  • Ensure you work toward a deadline.
  • If you are making a decision about how to fix a problem, make sure you are dealing with the real problem and not just a symptom.
  • Once you have identified the real problem, consider the need and then set a goal before jumping into action steps. Too many decisions are made by identifying a symptom and quickly jumping to action steps.
  • Surround yourself with people who are excellent at their jobs and tap into that expertise.
  • Involve the right people in making the decision, those who have a vested interest in the outcome, and who will be most affected.
  • Understand that making quick decisions can be as disastrous as making decisions too slowly.
  • Always determine what timeframe you have to make a decision. If circumstances don’t dictate the timing, then set a deadline and choose to make the decision within that parameter.
  • Ensure you consider what risks might be involved.
  • Establish a positive decision-making environment, one that encourages everyone to share their perspectives and knowledge.
  • Communicate decisions clearly to all who need to know. Tell them what to expect and what they need to do.
  • Always evaluate a key decision. Determine what was good and what could have made the decision better. This will help you and your team to grow and learn for the future.

Like most skills, decision-making can usually be improved. Take time to consider when and how you make good decisions and what needs to change when you don’t make good decisions. Take action to make a difference.

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July 4, 2012

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