In a previous on important entrepreneurial sales skills, I mentioned the importance of decision making but didn’t really have the time (and space) to delve into decision making. It is paramount to have good decision-making skills and to improve your ability as much as possible. It’s not always made abundantly evident just how much better decision making can do for you with people instead of choosing to focus on task-specific hard skills. The benefits of improved decision making are plenty
An improved decision-making process saves you time. Firstly in allowing you more time in general as decisions are made swiftly. Secondly, incorrect decisions cost time in correcting them and while that’s not such a terrible thing it simply means more time will be allocated to looking back instead of ahead. Also, a good decision generally takes into account all stakeholders so it will help you avoid backlashes and fights with stakeholders if done right.
Conflict, as mentioned above, doesn’t only cost time, there are relationship dynamics to be considered both internally and externally. Decisions that encompass all viewpoints drastically reduce conflict through anticipation.
Leaders who make good decisions generally get support from those around them with much less work. This is not exclusive to those in politics, in business you may lead a team of employees and more importantly a group of customers.
More time, less conflict, increased motivation put together can only mean improved productivity. Whether an individual or a team setup improved decision-making skills are all about the bottom line.
Practical tips to improve Decision-Making skills
Do your research
Making decisions without all the relevant information is simply asking for something to go wrong. You could get lucky but luck is not a strategy. Research into the problem before making the decision. Now there is one caveat; do not research to build a case. Many research to support the position they already hold on the decision and as the logic goes you always find what you’re looking for.
It varies with your business and organisation but you’re not always going to be the best person to make every single decision. In large organisations, you may have specialised people like Chief Financial Officers who can handle financial decisions better. Perhaps you are in a smaller organisation, such as a tuck shop where you employ one person. If the decision involves customer behaviour you might find it beneficial to defer to the person who handles customers. Maybe your business is a one-person band. Still, you can always delegate decisions to customers and sometimes even suppliers. Doritos, for example, ran a series of campaigns in which the general public voted for the next flavour they would produce. It’s not about getting out of making the decision but about getting a more relevant perspective on it.
A key to making good decisions is knowing what is important in the decision by defining the parameters that the outcomes will be judged upon. While the desired outcome may be to make money, cheating people out of their hard-earned money through a scam may fall outside of the parameters and therefore disqualify the method. Of course, the decisions are much more complex than this but the state of our infrastructure as a nation can be narrowed down to a lack of understanding of the parameters involved when decisions were made about governments expenditure or lack thereof on infrastructure.
There are many ways to skin a cat and fewer still are the number of options you should have when making decisions. The Trevsky Jam study showed that with more options available people are less likely to choose. So narrowing down your options helps to enable your ability to make a decision. The ideal number of options in any given case is 2-3. Through your research and setting of parameters, you should only have relevant options left.
Watch for information overload
In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell talks about a curious case that occurred. A researcher showed ordinary people 3-minute videos of couples doing things together. The same couples were in couples therapy as they were going through tough times. Both the ordinary individuals who watched only the 3-minute videos and the professional therapists were asked to rate the likelihood of couples to stay together after therapy. The ordinary individuals were just as good at predicting who would stay together as the therapist. Gladwell attributes this to having enough information to make a determination. Not all information available is essential to decision making and the ability to sift through will boost your decision-making ability. As an old man once said at a bus stop when a lady asked what time the bus is coming, “It will come when it comes”.
Begin with the end in mind
What is your desired outcome? What is the likely outcome of each option? If you wanted to lose weight 30 minutes of exercise is obviously more suitable than indulging in a box of doughnuts. The clearer you can see the endgame the better your ability to evaluate the options will be.