5 Tips for Effective Decision Making

The ability to make effective decisions in business is an important leadership skill and one that, like a muscle, needs to be exercised regularly to develop over time.  Sometimes making a choice is simple, you probably make hundreds of little decisions in your life every day, but there are also bound to be big decisions required in any business on a regular basis and wavering in procrastination or obvious uncertainty is best avoided.
 

How do you approach your decisions?

Do you make your decisions in a mindful way? Do you understand your decision making style and then just repeat a tried and tested recipe over and over?  And the next question, what is a good decision? Is it one that turns out to be right? Is it one that brings profit, accolades and success? Or is it one you learned from?
 
Generally we have found there to be 3 decision making styles in the workplace and many executives will use combinations of these to suit the situation.
 
1. Those who base decisions on intuition
2. Those that base decisions on extensive data
3. Those that seek consensus
  
Here are our 5 tips for efficient decision making.
 

1. Define & Simplify the Question

Understand exactly what it is in its simplest form that you are deciding. Understand clearly what you want an outcome to achieve. Give yourself a deadline to avoid indecision dragging on unnecessarily.  Understand how the decision needs to be made, is it yours to make alone? Does it require a vote?
 

2. Take a Flexible Approach

Sometimes it can be helpful to remember that a decision is not always set in stone and in some situations they can be tweaked or, worst case scenario, reversed. Whilst this can be an expensive exercise, reversing a decision can bring with it a valuable learning opportunity.
 

3. Review, Evaluate and Analyse Data Efficiently

We are living in a data driven world and senior executives generally have more information than ever before to base their decisions on. Research, Sales figures, Cost figures, Supply chain information, Staff output and Engagement and even access to subject matter experts. Having said all that, it can be a good idea to ensure you avoid information overload and to ensure you just seek the data you need.
 
In many situations you may also need to consider external factors and agendas.  It is always good practise to overlay the options against the bigger strategic picture, will a solution implemented fast track other goals?
 

4. Source Diverse and Varied Solutions

Gathering information on which to base your decisions can be done via the following tried and tested mechanisms:
  • Market Research, such as surveys, customer feedback, stakeholder feedback
  • Reviewing regular reporting and analysing change over time
  • Brainstorming with stakeholders
  • Seek diverse opinions from valued subject matter experts
Once you have a number of options to choose from, you need to apply selection criteria. You could use a scorecard approach, a cost benefit analysis via a business case or even something as simple as a list of pros and cons.
 

5. Execute, Implement and Review

The most critical step after making the decision is to ensure it is implemented. A leader should be able to delegate the execution of their vision to their team. Set a deadline for the implementation and do not forget the value of a post implementation review.