Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Make Better Decisions: 7 Steps

Although everyone knows that success results from good decisions, few people bother to hone their decision-making skills.  The following step-by-step process will help you make decisions like a champ:
1. Set a deadline.
The opposite of decision-making is indecision. Indecision drags things out until the world does the deciding for you.  Therefore, every important decision must have a deadline, a specific time when you WILL make the decision.
2. Discover the knowns.
Informed decisions are better than shooting from the hip, so finding facts is helpful.  However, when it comes to researching a decision, there's a point of diminishing returns. When you start obsessing on minor details, it's time stop fact-finding.
3. Gather relevant inputs.
If your decision requires other people to execute that decision, you MUST get their perspective prior to making the decision.  If you skip this step, those people will not "own" the decision and therefore not execute it well.
4. Decide.
The root of the word "decide" is the Latin word for "cut off."  A decision cuts off the debate and cuts off the possibility of pursuing some other course of action.  Once you've decided, you MUST now move to executing it, or it's not a real decision.
5. Explain your reasoning.
If other people have provided their perspective (in Step 3) and are now expected to execute the decision, they are more likely to execute well if you explain why you made that decision rather than pursue other options.
6. Never second guess.
Once you've made a decision, you must not question it, or seriously listen to other people question it, until you've obtained the results of executing that decision. Doing so pollutes the execution of the decision with indecision, thereby creating inaction.
7. Observe the results.
It's only after you (and your team, if they're involved) have made an honest and focused attempt to execute the decision that you stand back and observe the results. If the results are as expected, congratulations! If not, continue to step 8.
8. Adjust the decision.
Bullheadedness makes you just as helpless as indecision but with a lot more effort.  Therefore, if you're not getting the results you expect, go back to Step 1.  Use the knowledge you've gained to hone or change your decision.