Four Ways of Decision-Making

July 29, 2015 by

“Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level.” Peter Drucker

Go left. Head north. Stop here. Buy now. Do nothing.

There are differences to any new job, and in my latest adventure, it has been striking how much I’ve heard “well, we were waiting for you to get here to make that decision,” and in some cases the wait was a good long while.

The pathway to decisions is unique and reflects the culture of an organization. Risk-averse? Paralyzed by analysis? Prudent? Curious?

1. Decide only when you have to. This implies that until your back is against the wall, you’ll hold off. If the organization is always deciding under pressure and at the last second, it causes churn and decisions are likely to be sub-optimal. Also, if the organization is constantly waiting and wondering about decisions, there is wasted energy. Decisions aren’t limiting, they are freeing up the organization to move forward. If you’re measuring the outcomes of the decision, then guess what – you can change your mind.

2. Decide when needed. If decisions are only made as needed, then could be foregoing opportunistic decisions – ideas and innovations that aren’t apparent or brought forth in the normal pathways. We should be constantly curious and creative to find the decisions we didn’t even know were needed. Get out of your office and your normal social media lanes.

3. Decide the right things at the right time. This is generally where people strive to be – looking ahead and knowing what decisions need to be made when. You can back into the decision date through prudent planning of the correct analysis (not paralysis, please), engaging the right stakeholders (arrange your allies, avoid ambushes), weighing all the options (think outside and inside the boxes). This is practical, but not always innovative. And remember that not deciding is a decision. If we elect to defer a decision, at least do it thoughtfully (see also #1 above).

4. Decide to decide. Take it a step further. Make a conscious effort to be thoughtfully decisive, every day. Know what decisions need to be made according to plans. Look for decisions that weren’t scheduled but can be beneficial.

As I’ve gone along in my career, I’ve gotten more comfortable with the decision – you need to be unafraid to take a left turn, accelerate – that’s why you’ve got brakes and a GPS. Embrace the decision.



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