How Do You Make a Decision? 6 Steps to Help You Find Your Way.

Indecision is frustrating.  Throughout my career I have worked with people in power positions afraid to make a decision. They literally become paralyzed with an inability to determine the right course of action.  If you are in a position that has any kind of power you are also a decision maker.  Leadership and decision making is linked, and linked in a way that it cannot be un-linked.  Making decisions is imperative to moving forward.  It’s a very good snapshot of what kind of leader you are; decision making is connected to delegation and accountability and responsibility. 
So why do we not make decisions?  Some of it is simply how we are wired, or how we process information.  Some people are quick to decide, some people have a higher tolerance for risk where others need more information to feel like they are managing the risk and therefore, can make the decision.  Realistically a great number of decisions allow you to adjust or adapt as necessary or even change your mind or your course if you discover really good reasons why your first decision was wrong.
Reasonably, since we don’t think identically and we don’t see the world identically then we don’t make decisions identically.  But, it would also stand to reason that we can make them equally well.  If you have trouble making decisions, what are some options to help you feel confident in what you are deciding? 
  1. What does your gut say?  Is this the right thing to do? 
    • Of course there are times that hard decision can make you feel anxious, that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing, it may just be the hard thing.  Is your decision the right thing?
  2. Analyze The Situation
    • Take a look at what are the potential next steps, or domino’s that will fall once you make your decision.  Pull it all apart, research it and play your own devil’s advocate to assess the ‘meat’ of the decision. 
  3. Get a Second Opinion 
    • Ask a friend, ask a family member or anyone you trust to give you an unbiased opinion.  This is worth its weight for decision making.  An outside perspective may see things differently enough to help you widen or narrow your view. 
  4. Measure it – Look at the Costs and the Benefits
    • Every big decision I make I measure in three buckets – Personal, Professional and Financial.  I have to have a win in two of the three categories.  If it’s in all three, then that’s a definite plus, but it’s rare to not have to give up something to get something, or at least I can’t think of an example.  What will it cost you and how will it benefit you?  What will it cost your team or your company?  How will the benefits show up long term, short term, immediately and to whom?
  5. Assess the Risks and any develop potential Mitigation Strategies
    • Where can it go wrong?  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  And if the worst thing(s) happen, how do you recover?  Rate the risk in terms of low, medium and high.  So each risk you see you can grade on whether its VERY risky or not so risky.  Then put together a response plan for if those risks come to fruition.  Just like hotels developing and posting emergency evacuation plans.  The risk maybe fire; and their mitigation strategy is to ensure their guests know how to get out of their hotel in case of fire.  Do you have a plan B?  Or even a plan C sometimes?  If you don’t, spend some time thinking through the consequences and your potential reactions that could keep you on course. 
  6. Just Do it – Make the decision.
    • Pull the pin, watch it unfold, be anticipatory, be ready, be reasonable and be prepared to do it all over again.  
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