A few weeks back, I wrote about change but at the time I was also thinking about decisions and the power they carry. Since writing that article I have been more conscious than usual of my own decisions, in particular the consequences both positive and negative of these.
A common decision for me, and not at all work-related, occurred in the late hours of the night whereby I am watching television and decide that bingeing on TV should be accompanied by another type of late-night bingeing (which commences with a visit to the refrigerator).
I can confirm that, at the time, it always felt like a good decision – whether that remains the case a week, month or even years from now I would find out in the fullness of time.
Covid-19 and the weeks of lockdown also brought into effect an unfortunate paradigm – given that supermarkets were open but gyms were closed ... you can guess where I am going here.
It is true that all decisions will have an outcome, but it is the planning and evaluation that goes into making the decision that determines whether it will be good or otherwise.
It is common for stakes to be high when it comes to business decisions, which is why commitment to the decisions we make is equally as important as the investment. If you decide to set a direction you will likely not achieve it if you get cold feet and compromise on commitment and effort.
Likewise, if you are part of a team and a teammate does not deliver. For business decisions with a medium- to long-term impact, you must commit yourself and your business to how the future will develop both in, around and because of that decision.
For all businesses of all sizes, major decisions are made regularly. Whether it be an investment decision that has the potential to be a long-term asset, to the hiring of staff, business owners need to evaluate the consequences of taking any particular action.
Decision-making around opportunities is effective when you have all the relevant information and testing the decision thoroughly before making it is crucial. Robust decision-making as a process is easy to understand but, unfortunately, all too often is not executed effectively. Here are elements that have helped me:
1. Understand the issue or opportunity
2. Determine the outcome you want
3. Brainstorm alternatives and ideas
4. Ensure you have the right information
5. Get independent advice
6. Evaluate information and advice
7. Commit yourself to the decision
8. Make the decision and "socialise" it (create accountability)
From there it is about managing the process through to the successful conclusion that you want. Like Covid-19, there will always be wild cards and the key here is to amend your strategy to cater for change.
From time to time you may need to have a Plan B, as often the environment changes so much that the original decision becomes untenable – so regularly tracking how you are doing is important.
And good decisions will invariably have good payoffs – like (as I have found) going to bed early, eating well, and spending more time in the gym!