Decision-Making Made Simpler
February 22, 2011
I once worked for a fascinating and brilliant CEO. He was an enigma; pre-occupied by his own vivid world, it was doubtful how much he was ever really aware of what transpired in the minds of others. He didn't react but instead only acted. Nor did he mirror others; instead, he was so compelling he affected others, altering them to his own camera angle. His power came from good intent; his mystique from conviction and a sense of shouldering great responsibility. He handed off only to a select few who he believed could shoulder the burden. He was not a supreme egoist, but instead, someone who believed the weight of the world was on his shoulders.
This was an amazing time for me as an understudy ... and yet, I recognized that decision-making really never became a process there. In more earthly realms, decision-making can be hard work and must necessarily involve multiple people; particularly when you're dealing with complicated decisions for high stakes. It's very often tempting to take shortcuts and detours, but the problem with side roads is they seldom lead back.
In only the most rare leadership settings can a company function under the spell of a leader who, in essence, makes the key decisions. Elsewhere, good decision-making pays dividends in both personal and business life. If you're willing to take the time -- and like most great managers, willing to accept the ideas of others -- you'll ultimately have a clear view of the trail ahead. Within this process you'll find those around you are growing in self-confidence and will trust you even more.
Over time we've recommended the "Osborn Checklist" to those wishing to better manage their decision-making. This model is based on the concept that twisting an idea can often jump-start creativity and results.
- Remind yourself of the objective.
- Keep company objectives and values at the top of your goal array.
- Measure your choice against your criteria checklist.
- Take a close look at your top choice; this is your last chance to consider what could fail.
- A decision without a back-up is a desperate throw; always have an alternate in hand.
- When possible, test your decision; take one last shot at weeding out land mines.
- Those in your decision circle must understand their roles as well as you do yours.
No one is right 100% of the time. A decision-making process almost always requires you to stretch your intellect and instincts, especially when the decision is irrevocable. Fortunately, most aren't. The best leaders are the best problem-finders and decision-makers. Life and business go a lot easier when you trust yourself and the people around you.