Have you ever thought about the process of decision making? Have you wondered why some people make quick decisions and other just ponder and ponder the situation until the issue is moot? Well, we are all different (which is a good thing), but there are a few tidbits that I have learned over the years that I would like to share.
Start out right. Figure out what facts or details you need to know in order to feel comfortable making a sound decision. Let’s say you’re buying a house. Start in the macro, work towards the micro. First think about the location, type/size of house, and how much you can afford. Once your choices are narrowed, then focus on the floor plan, number of bedrooms and the color/style that you want. Obtain as much of the desired information as is reasonably possible, given your time constraints. Realize that sometimes you can’t get all the facts. Sometimes it would take an eternity and divine intervention to know all the things you’d like to know before making the decision. You have to find out what you can and go for it! If you have the luxury of time, set a deadline for your decision. Put it on your calendar as a reminder so it won’t be overlooked. Don’t shoot from the hip on complicated issues. You might be sorry. Your error could be costly.
Generally, the less important the consequences of your action, the quicker you can make the decision and the less facts you really need. For example, deciding what to eat for lunch—if you pick the wrong thing, there is always tomorrow and you can pick something else. The only drawback is if you select something you
are highly allergic to and end up in the emergency room. Avoid “Analysis Paralysis” as I call it, when you just can’t make a decision. This often happens when we are overloaded with lots of decisions to make at once or are otherwise over-stressed or overly tired. The brain can’t seem to clear the path to come to a decision. You keep adding more information to the equation,
waiting for the next tidbit of news to make your decision. The best advice in this situation is to take a break and think about what it is you really need to know in order to make a good decision. Obtain that information and your decision will be easier. Getting enough sleep will do wonders for thinking clearly, too.
Think about the cost of inaction. Yes, the cost of doing nothing at all. Will the problem take care of itself? If so, maybe the best course of action is no action at all! But if failure to act will result in catastrophic results, you cannot afford to dilly dally around. In fact, sometimes it is better to take action quickly and make corrections later. The thought of a semi-truck heading towards you uncontrollably comes to mind. It's better to change your path, even if you have to re-adjust it later, than to wait for the collision.
Be timely. A decision should be “pro-active”, not “reactive” in nature, whenever possible. Future problems can often be avoided by taking positive steps sooner. Remember there may be a “window of opportunity” and choices might be limited if you delay your decision too long. For example, waiting too long to make a decision on a construction job site can have a domino effect and contribute to new issues. Learn from your actions. (I hesitate to use the term “mistake”, because it’s not really a mistake if it was the best decision that could have been made at the time.) Use the opportunity to take further action and move ahead.
The mark of a leader is not necessarily the one who is unafraid of charging ahead with the decision, but rather it is being “man” enough (or “woman” enough) to make an educated decision, weighing the available facts…and being flexible enough to make corrections when needed.