Last weekend the UK switched to Daylight Savings Time. The clocks went back one hour. In other words, we got to do the hour over again. Granted most of us were asleep and so didn’t notice. But it got me wondering, ‘What if you had the opportunity to do something over?’ A bit like Marty in the film Back to the Future, if you could go back and change something what would you want to change? I would imagine that what you would want to change is something to do with a decision you made.
Good decision-making is a crucial part of great leadership. The decisions or choices you make end up making you. When you are a leader then the impact of your decisions affects many more people. How can you make better decisions more regularly?
“Decision is the spark that ignites action. Until a decision is made, nothing happens… Decision is the courageous facing of issues, knowing that if they are not faced, problems will remain forever unanswered.” Wilferd A. Petersen
It is a fact that if you make no decision you will never know whether the change you propose will work. When a decision is made there has to be a way of evaluating it. You will know whether it was a good decision or not by the outcome. In making decisions and learning from them you will make more decisions in a right way. It doesn’t guarantee a good outcome but over time with good learning and evaluation more good outcomes are possible.
Tips for Better Decision Making
1. Understand that too many decisions are made unconsciously in the moment, and we read them as fate. You may wonder how did I get here? There is a law of unintended consequences that arises when we don’t understand how we make decisions.
2. Beware of information bias in your decision making. When you understand your own tendencies, you will understand the information you pay attention to by default in making decisions. When making significant decisions you can then recognise what information you will more readily listen to. You can then decide what other information is needed from people with a different perspective to your own. The result will be better informed decisions from multiple perspectives.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt
3. Make a decision – deadlines are good for this. With the available information I must make this decision because time is up. Do as much as you can to get the information you need and then make the decision. Indecision equates to no action and therefore no opportunity for learning. Don’t let the fear of making the decision prevent you from making it.
4. Take the time necessary. In the digital age the temptation is to believe you must make an immediate response. Emails, for example, seem to make a demand for an instant response. If it involves a simple decision then that’s okay, but if it needs thought respond and say you will get back to them at a certain time. Stay in control of your time as much as you can.
5. Evaluate your decisions. When you evaluate the decisions you make you set yourself up to learn. Learning will put you in a consistently better position to think about making decisions in a better way. Ask yourself three questions: What went right? What went wrong? What can I do differently?
Remember the decisions you make are the result of the information available at the time. Most of us have 20/20 hindsight. You have to be comfortable with the decision made even if it is imperfect. Most of the time you can iterate your way to a good outcome.
To better understand your bias in decision making, give me a call to learn how to make smarter decisions.