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Thursday, October 29, 2015

5 Actions improve decision making

Rational decisions should move you closer to that light at the end of a tunnel!

Making decisions can often be hampered by fear and by complexity of a corporate structure.  The wrong decision may get you fired or cost the loss of your business.  Fear of negative events reduces the care and consideration of rational thought processes to take decisive action.  Decisions become even more difficult when the entire business is on the line, because the decision maker knows that a poor decision may result in a business being forced to shut down or make the status worse than before. 

The stresses of a failing business causes some to go into a survival mode.  Their thinking shifts wildly among potential alternatives while they attempt to keep a business operational. They may fear changing course because of unknown consequences of a decision, so they keep doing what is not working hoping it will improve. Sometimes it helps to reduce the number of options to a more manageable set before maximal effort is focused on the activities that may yield the greatest payoff.  In any event, finding a way to reduce the fear, anxiety, an stress is important to rational planning.

In larger corporations, the manager may be removed from the group tasked with examining a change or new direction.  This results in the team having limited feedback along the way and the manager having to review the data from the team before finalizing a decision.  If this decision requires approval several layers up the chain, the team may fear looking bad and be far too cautious in providing the best input for the final decision makers.  It is very hard in such situations for the team to make the bold recommendation that may really catapult the business to new heights.  

It is clear that stress, anxiety, and fear will complicate decisions.  No matter what decision one makes there is always a feeling of what may have happened if an alternative path was taken.  One way to help improve the process is to take the most rational approach possible that works in the time frame required for the decision.  Keep in mind that a decision required in 1 hour forces movement through the process faster than a decision that may take a month! Consider follow the flow listed below and see if it helps you next time.

  1. Take a deep breath:  Recognize that whatever you are feeling is only going to complicate the process.  Stepping back and taking time to compose yourself and reduce any fear, anxiety, and stress will allow you to approach the issues in a more rational manner.  You are not the first person to be in a difficult place nor will you be the last.  The better the plan you create, the better the chances of coming away with a winning scenario. 

  1. Make a list:  Listing out all the issues and possible steps to resolve them is an important step.  Remember to consider the time required and cost to complete each step.  This information will help assign importance and likelihood of completing the steps. 

  1. Rank according to potential impact:  This is where you decide if task completion will be a game changer or not.  The greater the impact, the higher it should be on the list.

  1. Review time and costs:  A review of the time is not simply the time to complete the task; it includes the time you have left.  For example, a business with 6 months of funding left taking should not work on a high value task that takes 1 year to complete, nor should it work on a task that cost more than the business can afford.  Adjust tasks not you are unlikely to complete due to money or time downward on the list.  The top tier tasks be those you can complete in the remaining time with the dollars available. 

  1. Limit the number of tasks:  The listing, ranking and review will create an optimal order of those items you can complete in the remaining time with the resources available.  It is often better to select one or two of the top items and focus the remaining attention and resources to completing those tasks.  The goal is to get the greatest impact that will help the company survive and grow again.

The process helps reduce the anxiety in any decision making and it improves the selection of just enough from the list to gain the best impact with remaining resources.  As someone told me recently, when standing on the edge of a cliff, you can jump or go a different direction.  Both are decisions, but the analysis of the situation will tell you which has the best chances of yielding a positive result.  It is important to remain AGILE in Thinking, because most decisions may be altered along the way.  Monitoring the results and adjusting is essential to getting to a WIN!

Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon