better decision making
politician and cabinet minister of the Government of India.
Adults make an average of 35,000 decisions every day. Some of them are significant, others, not so much. But, when it comes to leading a company and career, decision making is a critical skill for success. So, how can you make the best decision possible?
In decision making, is it better to be right, or to be quick? Today’s post will dive into this debate.
According to Jeff Bezos, the decision making process is about calculated risks at speed. Jeff Bezos considers decision-making, especially when there are time constraints, to be one of his keys to success. Bezos’ decision making model is aimed at achieving high-quality, high-speed decisions. Instead of waiting around to decide, Bezos makes a decision and acts quickly, with a calculated risk. Similarly, Facebook’s early motto was: “move fast and break things”. Jeff values quick decision making and says most decisions can be made like this.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all decision making process, there are a few steps you can follow for any decision to achieve better results. Here are five steps to follow Bezos’ decision making model, and help you achieve better results with your decision making.
The first step to this decision making model is to identify the problem or opportunity. What exactly is at stake here, short-term and long-term? Be specific as you can so you are clear about what you need to proceed.
Next, define the timeline for your decision. How soon is the absolute latest that you need to decide? Remember, the quicker the better. Of course, some decisions will naturally take longer than others. But do not postpone decision-making too late. It can become a bottleneck of inaction if you wait too long to decide.
In business, fast decisions are critical. Decisions can be made the fastest if the impact of making the wrong or bad decision is minimal. If that is the case then you identify, re-adjust, and make a different decision. The larger the impact the more you need to be accurate. A low impact decision can be made with maybe 60-70% accuracy while a high-impact decision may need to be 95% or more accurate (and takes longer).
Diving deeper into making the decision ... Do you need additional information to make your decision? Make a list of your possible choices and their potential consequences. If you need to, seek advice from a mentor or professionals that you trust. You can also resort to the elementary, but very effective, pros and cons t-chart. Make a list of all the pros on one side and all the cons on the other side, and evaluate which works better.
Another very effective decision making model is the weighted decision matrix. This tool can help you decide which factors of the decision are most important to you, and you can rate how each choice stacks up to those factors. However, this is best for more lengthy decisions with complicated factors. It will take more time to compile, so use it only when you can’t make a decision in your head, and you can research those factors quickly.
Again, you don’t need to have be 100% accurate -- it depends on the impact of a bad decision. Most decisions are reversible so you can make most decisions with just 60%-70% accuracy. If you wait to have more than that, you’re probably being too slow.
Getting decision buy in may be valuable in certain situations -- while others its important for you to make the decision and move forward. As a leader, it’s important to communicate your decision to your team as needed. According to Bezos, this is a “disagree and commit” strategy where you can ask your colleagues to disagree but still support your decision. This way you can move forward with dissent.
As soon as you can, implement your decision. Track and evaluate. Think of this as ‘testing’ your idea. Your decision is essentially your hypothesis, and you are putting it to the test. Just like a scientist in a lab, you should record and evaluate how your test goes, and sometimes you may be wrong about your hypothesis. But no scientific discovery was ever achieved without some testing first.
As you act, implement ways to measure how your decision is impacting performance. Can you measure growth or sales? Or perhaps you can measure clicks or viewers. It’s okay if things aren’t going exactly as you expected. If your decision turns out not to be the best one, simply course correct as soon as possible.
You do not need have everything figured out just yet to make good decisions. You are allowed to make mistakes. But it is better to make the mistakes quickly and move on than wait in decision paralysis.
After you’ve implemented your decision, evaluate how it went. What do the measurements tell you? Reflect on the decision’s impact and involve your team in evaluating it.
Then, you’re ready to rinse and repeat this process for the next decision. It’s possible that you can go through this process every day, or even multiple times a day, depending on the type of decisions required in your role.
In the business decision making process, it’s ideal to fail fast. Test out your ideas quickly so that you can move on to the next one, otherwise, your competition will surpass you. In a decision making model, action is better than inaction.
Looking to improve your decision making process in leadership? Check out the leadership resources including articles, quotes and business best practices to help you become the best leader you can be. I've aggregated quite a few decision making quotes as an adjunct to this article.
Doe Zantamata: author, artist, and photographer