De­ci­sions, De­ci­sions

Re­mov­ing the doubt from de­ci­sion mak­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - Joseph Sher­ren, in­ter­na­tional busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion spe­cial­ist, can be reached at 902-437-6998, or check his web­site www.gate­waylead­er­

I re­cently had a tough de­ci­sion to make re­gard­ing a busi­ness ven­ture. On the up­side, it was a po­ten­tial op­por­tu­nity to con­sid­er­ably in­crease rev­enues. On the down­side, it would con­sume sub­stan­tial re­sources and pre­cious per­sonal time.

As lead­ers, one of the top daily ac­tiv­i­ties is to make smart de­ci­sions. Yet how can we know we’re mak­ing the right de­ci­sion when we live in the world where there are no ab­so­lutes? Many of th­ese de­ci­sions are ur­gent; oth­ers strate­gic; some can even be life chang­ing. But most im­por­tantly, de­ci­sions must be made in a timely man­ner. The right de­ci­sion made too late be­comes a bad de­ci­sion.

Of­ten, I see man­agers who are de­ci­sion-averse. They wait too long and then make a de­ci­sion by de­fault, which they later re­gret. Even mak­ing no de­ci­sion is still a de­ci­sion. To com­pound mat­ters, we of­ten make de­ci­sions based on our con­fir­ma­tion bias. Us­ing our pre-pro­grammed men­tal con­di­tion­ing, we do not even ques­tion or ex­plore al­ter­na­tives.

The num­ber one rea­son why most man­agers fail is be­cause they make poor choices that lead to bad de­ci­sions. In some cases, they com­pound that bad de­ci­sion with more bad de­ci­sions.

It is im­pos­si­ble to sep­a­rate good lead­er­ship from de­ci­sion mak­ing. Whether you like it or not, the two are un­avoid­ably con­nected. Man­agers who rise to se­nior po­si­tions in the or­ga­ni­za­tion, do so largely based upon their abil­ity to con­sis­tently make sound de­ci­sions in a timely man­ner.

For man­agers to get pro­moted into se­nior po­si­tions, it may take years and years of con­sis­tent sound de­ci­sion mak­ing. But as many of you have ex­pe­ri­enced, one bad de­ci­sion can end your ca­reer.

So, how can man­agers in­crease their de­ci­sion-mak­ing abil­ity? First, by know­ing the three value-based de­ci­sion mak­ing styles and un­der­stand­ing their most pre­ferred. Th­ese are as fol­lows:

1 - Deon­tol­o­gists. “Deon” is a Greek word mean­ing duty. Th­ese peo­ple are duty-bound and see ev­ery­thing as black or white, right or wrong. They are what we call ab­so­lutists, al­ways want­ing to fol­low the rule and never bend poli­cies.

Deon­tol­o­gists re­quire lots of raw data, facts, sta­tis­tics, and flow charts. They will want to study poli­cies, prac­tices, and moral laws.

2 - Tele­ol­o­gists. “Tele” is an­other Greek word mean­ing far off, in the dis­tance; such as telecom­mute, tele­phone, tele-sem­i­nar. They pri­mar­ily make de­ci­sions based on what they see as the bet­ter out­come at some point in the fu­ture.

Tele­ol­o­gists will want to ex­am­ine case stud­ies, do what-if sce­nar­ios, and col­lect lots of prior his­tory. They think of them­selves as part of the big­ger busi­ness com­mu­nity and try to con­sider the well-be­ing of oth­ers.

3 - Si­t­u­a­tion­al­ists make de­ci­sions based on just the mer­its of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion be­fore them right now. If they had the same de­ci­sion to make again in the fu­ture, it might be to­tally dif­fer­ent be­cause some of the par­tic­u­lars might have changed.

Us­ing any one of th­ese three styles on its own can pro­duce a flawed de­ci­sion. Each con­stituency must be con­sid­ered equally; but above all, you must trust your gut in­stincts. Even when re­fined in­for­ma­tion and solid an­a­lyt­ics are avail­able, your in­stincts can of­ten pro­vide a very valu­able check against the rea­son­abil­ity or bi­ases of those other in­puts.

My ques­tion for lead­ers this week: “What process do you use when it is nec­es­sary to make a crit­i­cal, strate­gic, busi­ness or life de­ci­sion?”

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