Why better Decision Making Skills are essential for Achieving Results in Business
We all make thousands of decisions each day. We decide when we would like to go to sleep and when we’d like to wake up. We decide what to wear today, what we want for breakfast, when to leave for work, what to have for lunch, when to exercise (okay let’s be real if we should exercise at all today), etc. You get the gist.
Luckily a lot of those decisions are not critical and become routine and should not cause us any distress or worry. Lots of entrepreneurs go to lengths to minimise the time spent on mundane decisions like these. For instance, Steve Jobs’ decision to wear a black turtleneck and blue jeans to eradicate the need to make choices about clothing at all.
There are many situations where we need to make weightier decisions in life and business.
A project team cannot reach a unanimous conclusion at a crucial decision point in their project. An entrepreneur must increase production capacity in a short timeframe to win new business and needs to assess whether the extra investment will yield the desired profits. A brick and mortar business see an opportunity to move into e-commerce, but a move like this will mean they fundamentally change their market strategy and the structure of their operations.
All these examples have important consequences and require rational decision-making.
Business and life-changing decisions can be really daunting to make. You look to the future and wonder how you should decide today what could (possibly) affect the rest of your life and it makes you anxious, afraid, unsure. Add to that the impact on costs, time, relationships, and emotions and it becomes very important how you make decisions.
However, being able to make rational decisions is an essential skill, particularly in business. I was recently working with a client, a female entrepreneur who runs a consultancy firm. We were working on her pricing strategy and there were several ways we could go with it. We narrowed down her options and I made my recommendation on what I thought the best strategy was, and why. And then it began – the what if’s. “What if we go one way, and it doesn’t work out?” What if we implement Plan A and my customers are not happy?”.
These are all valid questions and are part of the decision-making process. However, at some point, you must make an actual decision on which action to take.
Indecisiveness affects business productivity and growth, profits, innovation, and confidence in the leadership team. Improving your skills in decision-making will assist in improving your results in these areas.
Also, by improving your decision-making skills, you can feel more prepared and equipped to deal with new problems, as well as feel less anxious and overwhelmed about dealing with them. In short, it impacts your mindset.
I love this quote by Geoffrey Colvin in an article in Fortune magazine, 1997 “…the most valuable quality of a manager is a willingness, even an eagerness, to make large, painful decisions.” How apt!
Thus, decision-making is the primary job of any founder, business leader, or manager and is a skill we should all learn, and then practise until we become proficient at it.
Here are a few tips on things you can do to improve your decision-making skills:
- Just do it. An important step is deciding to make a decision. So many of us wait for the RIGHT answer to appear before us and waiting soon turns to “I’ll get to it soon” and that eventually becomes “oops, I forgot”. Aim to spot this flaw in decision-making and then fix it. Decide to decide!
- Clearly define the issue. Why do you need to make this decision? What is the actual challenge? Gaining understanding is the next step.
- Know your Goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Not immediately but long-term? Keeping your vision in focus will help you assess whether this decision is important / the right one / even necessary.
- Brainstorm your options. What can you do to overcome this challenge? What are possible solutions available to you? What are you missing? Once you’ve done this, narrow your choices to 3 options. Too many choices will lead to further indecision.
- Use your data. Gather data and good information on which to base your decision. Once you’ve chosen a direction and tested it, evaluate your choice. What worked, what didn’t? What new information has that given you? What changes need to be made. Then implement that.
- Know the consequences. Once you’ve made a choice, assess the consequences of that choice. Look at it from several angles. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Can you live with it?
- Find out what the experts/others who have been through similar situations think or have done. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Seek wisdom and knowledge from others.
- Be agile. Do not overthink things. There is NO PERFECT SOLUTION. It is more important to keep the momentum up than wait for perfection. Make a GOOD ENOUGH decision and keep moving forward.
- Stop looking back. After you’ve made the decision, don’t spend your time worrying about whether it’s right or not. Have you heard the saying “Fail fast”? This is what successful entrepreneurs focus on doing. They make decisions to start things, and if they fail, they fix things quickly to minimise their losses and then, they keep moving.
- Be mindful of when you make important decisions. Making decisions when you are highly emotional, stressed, angry, or in a hurry will most likely not be the best decisions you can make. Think ‘when’ as well as ‘what’. In the study of emotional intelligence, we are taught that our brains are flooded with chemicals for six seconds after feeling an emotion. In that time, any reaction we have will be purely emotional. After this time, the chemicals start to dissipate, and the logical brain begins to function again in tandem with the emotional brain and we can make more logical choices. It takes the saying “count to ten and then act” to a whole new level of understanding, right?
What are some of your top tips for improving decision-making? I’d love it if you shared them in the comments below.
Uzo Ijewere is a Business and Mindset Coach. She works with and supports female entrepreneurs to align their vision with a strategy to achieve intentional, and intelligent, results. Read more articles like this one at www.augmentresults.com/blog/