“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
Roy E. Disney
In a very uncertain world our company values, vision and mission can give us some stability. They can provide the foundations for our decision-making, both the what and the how. That apart we are all operating in a world where the only constant is change. Many of the old rules no longer apply and in the digital age the speed of your decision-making is imperative.
Pace v process
Jeff Bezos talks about making ‘high velocity’ as well as ‘high quality’ decisions. Most decisions should be made with 70% of the information you wish you had. Any more and you will probably miss the opportunity.
The pace of change also means that top down decision-making is too slow and you need to enable decisions to be made at all levels of the organisation. To quote Ken Blanchard ‘get off the pitch and let your team play.’
However, there is a well-tested decision-making process and the ultimate impact of the decision should determine the scope and time involved. We all make decisions every day of our lives but as the impact increases so does the deliberation.
What are the barriers to effective decision making in your company?
Clarity of roles and accountabilities, the authority to make decisions and the culture and environment are all important ingredients for effective decision making. Having a clear strategy and plan will enable the company to prioritise and focus on the key decisions. There is no point being agile when making decisions if you are focusing on the wrong subject matter.
As a business owner you need to ‘look in the mirror’ and ask yourself are you one of the barriers to effective decision-making? Are you holding up the process by trying to maintain control? Ensure
people are empowered and have the time to focus on the critical business decisions or collaborate with others across the business.
What is the decision?
Be clear about the overall goal and reflect on the level of impact to define the scope and timescale for finding a solution. Does it require collaboration or is it an individual decision? Who is responsible for making the decision? Don’t forget that the best answer might be to do nothing.
What is ‘the most beautiful question?’
In this data fuelled age the answer is not as important as asking the right questions. Warren Berger in his book “A More Beautiful Question’ states ‘we’re all hungry today for better answers but first we must learn to ask the right questions.’ Be sure you know what problem you are trying to solve and don’t jump to the ‘how’ before you have considered some ‘what if’ scenarios and asked yourself why is the decision a priority, in the first place.
Getting the right skills and attitudes on board
Remember that you are looking for the right balance of skills, knowledge and attitudes to find the best solution. You need different personality types in the debate but appreciate that they will work through decisions in different ways and speeds. Also have a look at De Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ for looking at decisions from different perspectives.
Call a friend
Fact gathering and using your wider network is key. Don’t be afraid to talk to some critical friends or advisers. People external to the company aren’t wearing any blinkers but be careful of those who are working to their own agenda.
Eat the elephant one bite at a time
Big decisions can be broken down. Get off the fence as quickly as possible and start making small steps towards answering the larger question. The ultimate destination might well change but at least you can make some good progress on the journey.
Which route do we take?
Consider the options and evaluate the risks and benefits of each. Keep it simple but create pros and cons with a weighted scoring as some elements will have greater significance. Once a decision is made make sure you communicate it effectively and then put all your effort into making it happen.
Andrew Silver is the owner of 360 Growth Partners who identify, coordinate and make the adjustments businesses need to accelerate growth. For more information go to www.360growthpartners.co.uk or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org