“A man who does things makes many mistakes, but never makes the biggest mistake of all — doing nothing.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Decisions are part of life; some are big, some are small. Quality decisions are reached by using experience, judgement, analysis of data/fact/situations and wisdom. The key to quality decisions is having confidence in your area of expertise. In business, a decision is only a good one if it made at the right time. Timely decisions are necessary, so courage and conviction are ingredients required for decision-making.
We make decisions all the time—many of them without consciously thinking about them—what to have for breakfast, what to wear, where to have lunch. They are easy to make, either because there are no alternatives, or there are no negative consequences, whichever choice we make.
The difficulty arises with decisions that are based on imperfect knowledge; significantly increase the effectiveness of your decisions in spite of insufficient information, time constraints and complex issues.
What is a sound decision? A sound decision requires.
- Accurate analysis
- A solid understanding of the business and its priorities
- Analysis of hard facts and human dimensions
- Consideration of alternatives and their consequences
- Involvement of the appropriate people
The difficult decisions are ones that resolve problems. Therefore, problem-solving skills are essential to effective decision-making. Timing is also all-important. The right decision at the wrong time can be as bad as no decision. Often it requires courage to take a tough decision.
The toughest decisions are those that involve risk, either because they are based on imperfect knowledge; or they will have a negative impact whichever option we choose; the decisions where the outcome is far from clear.
Practiced decision-makers acquire a sound understanding of business operating principles—they understand their own organization, and broader business principles. They also use analysis skills to determine what information is needed to reach a decision. When the issue is clear, it is much less likely to be clouded by emotion. But emotion can influence even the most rational decision-maker
The ability to make decisions quickly is much admired. But there is a big difference between promptness and rashness. Impulsive decisions can wreak havoc, and those who perpetrate them acquire a reputation for recklessness.
No matter how carefully you prepare to make a decision, sometimes you will get it wrong. But the greatest damage occurs when decisions are not made, or delayed. You need to learn to make calculated risks and accept risk as part of the decision-making process. And of course, the ability to make sound decisions is a demonstration of true leadership.
An excerpt from What Bosses Want
By Gary V. Nelson and Bonnie L. Nelson
Founders of NBOGroup