How many decisions do you make in the course of the day? Five, ten, hundreds?
Some are as trivial as Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks? Others are more operational, such as signing a training request form or agreeing to new terms with a vendor. Still some of your decisions will be strategic and require a bit more thought. In these instances, are you able to be unbiased in your decision-making?
We are all products of experiences, education, culture and our environment so it is only natural that we carry the biases we develop into most business situations. Consider your former boss who always seemed to be enthralled with the thoughts of one of your colleagues. How about the time you became preoccupied with one particular solution and eventually went down on a smoldering heap! It can take all of our mental agility and strength to remain open to alternatives and not jump at the first solution that feels good.
There is an old saying that “a mind is like a parachute, it works best when open!” The same can be said for decision-making. Being open to alternatives can lead to some amazing results.
Step 1 – Get Clarity. I can’t tell you the number of times I hear managers and leaders shout out solutions before they truly understand the problem. Get the facts, all the facts! To paraphrase Steven Covey, seek first to clarify.
Step 2 – Root out the Cause. Root cause analysis is predicated on the belief that problems are best solved by trying to correct or eliminate root causes rather than administering to the symptoms of the problem. Get to the root of the problem.
Step 3 – Analyze the Alternatives. Analyze your alternatives and consider the risk and return on each of your alternatives. A word of warning about this step – beware of analysis paralysis! Socialize your alternatives but don’t fall prey to inaction.
Step 4 – Implement and Evaluate. Don’t assume your job is done once you’ve made and implemented your decision. Perhaps the results were not what you had hoped for. Your alternatives may have uncovered the very best solution and your implementation was faulty. Or maybe you never actually uncovered the root cause! Whatever the case, constantly evaluate your decision process and don’t be afraid to Get Clarity, Root out the Cause Again and come up with another approach.
In most cases, we progress through this process without a thought. But when the stakes are high and the consequences severe, check your ego at the door, manage your biases and make a decision that will stand the test of time.