Essential Guide to Decision Making

We make decisions all the time, often without really paying much attention to them. Some decisions we can make easily – we’re comfortable with the subject matter, the risks involved are not significant, and we can see the benefits of the chosen option. Other times, decisions can seem more complex and daunting. When this happens, we can potentially stall the decision making process, let emotion have too much influence in our thinking, get analysis paralysis or even select a choice that in retrospect you now consider wasn’t actually the best option.

Decision making is a skill that involves critical thinking, analysis, risk assessment, reasoning and often a small dose of creativity. It’s a skill that can be honed with experience, and it’s a process that can be broken down in a structured, productive way.

“I’m just going around in circles”

Sometimes making decisions feels like a long, arduous process, seemingly going round and round in circles. There are a number of decision making models available to us, typically following similar steps. These include DECIDE and BRAINS. Not only do these processes help us reach better decisions, but they help us break down what the problem is, the key criteria, our options, the best outcome and help us think about how we’ll measure success.

“Why did I ever think this was a good idea?”

Decision tools can help us understand and justify why we chose our selected outcome 6 months down the line. Additionally, because we’ve followed a process, gathered the facts and figures and assessed them in a methodical way we can see why we have arrived at a decision. Decision tools such as Decision Matrices and Decision Trees can also help prioritise where we focus our time so that we don’t waste time researching an element that actually isn’t that important, but we do invest time in researching and understanding a key success factor. Looking back at the process used for a particular problem helps us accept the decisions we have made at that time with the information available and the market forces at play. Once we accept the decisions we have made, confident

that the decision was made with due consideration, our energy can be focused on moving forward to the next adventure. We’ll also be more confident in our decision making going forward.

Getting the balance of how much time to invest in each decision comes with practise. You don’t need a decision tree for every decision, but it might help in deciding between different directions for your business. Applying the right tools should speed up the decision making process, provide clarity and outline steps that will let you and your business move forward with decisions with greater confidence.

If you would like to hear more about barriers to good decision making, decision models and tools, I will be speaking at Solihull Socially Shard on 16th May and Rugby Socially Shared on 11th June.

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