Decision-making is one of the most important business skills, but few people have the training they need to make good decisions consistently.
How do you decide what needs to be done? Your ability to make an effective decisions in a timely manner can be critical to your success. The process below will help you make the best possible decision at any given time, by providing a checklist that you can use to structure your decision making process.
This checklist does not address group decision making. If you need to make complex or critical decisions with large groups or there are diverse opinions and challenging dynamics bring in a professional facilitator to manage the process and support the leadership role.
1. Assess the Situation
Take the time to identify the situation clearly and then organize the issues that need to be addressed. Is this a surface issue or are there deeper issues that need to be considered? Can you break down the decision into smaller parts? Do not let yourself get so absorbed in the urgency of making a decision that you don't take the time to see the forest through the trees.
2. Take a Fresh Perspective
Take a step back and look with new eyes. Make your decisions based on looking to the future and let the past inform you, not rule you. A good leader learns from their past experiences, both positive and negative. Involving others will provide new data points and perspectives. But if you do decide to involve others, be clear about their role and level of involvement in the decision making process.
3. Consider Your Options
Generate/brainstorm all the possible alternatives. Think of at least 5 different ways that could solve this problem. Be creative and think out of the box for alternative choices. Do not eliminate options because they sound absurd, an idea that sounds off the wall may be the best solution.
4. Analyze Each Option
For each choice consider the following
What are the positives?
What are the negatives?
Who/what does it impact?
Is it achievable?
How does it fit in with your long term goals?
5. Get Unstuck
Some people get stuck because nothing seems perfect or acceptable. From this evaluation what is the best choice you can make today. Realize that everything is a compromise. No decision is ever going to be without its down side.
6. Make the Decision
Based on the analysis that you have just completed choose the best possible option that is available to you today.
7. Define an Action Plan
Your action plan needs to include the steps you need to take, the resources and people needed to implement the decision, a timeframe for each action, and an ongoing schedule for evaluation. Decide now how you will know that you have been successful. What outcome do you want, be specific and set measurable goals. Determine when you need to review your decision and if necessary make mid course corrections.
8. Communicate Your Decision
Communicate your decision and your expected outcomes to everyone that is impacted by the decision. Set clear expectations for yourself and others. Your decision needs to be clearly articulated, convincing and succinct.
Focus on implementing your decision. Once you begin to implement, be aware that anxiety due to change is often part of the process. This does not mean that you have made the wrong decision, it is just that change is hard.
Learn from everything you do. Build awareness of what's working and what isn't and share your learning. If new information is discovered that alters your plan go back to step no 3 armed with the new knowledge and revise your plan.