6 ingredients for making a good decision

“It’s official in my mind…my boss is a total jerk. He told me this morning he thinks my decision to implement the automated expense tracking system was a bad one.”

“Did he say why?”

“He says it’s going to create problems with the field sales staff because I didn’t consider other options or involve other people.”

“You did those things, right?”

“Of course I did a little research and talked to couple people I could get ahold of.  But what’s really frying me is I saw a problem and fixed it fast. He should be happy, not beating me up about it.”

Danger signs at the intersection of autonomy and collaboration!

In Motivation, Daniel Pink shares research detailing — not surprisingly — that we’re stimulated by purpose, mastery and autonomy. Yet, if our goal is being a successful leader, we must balance the autonomy portion of that equation with collaboration.

What’s a good decision-making process?

Sometimes a party of one is the best decision-maker; other times, achieving workable and productive outcomes requires involving others to drive diversity of thought, buy-in and participation. When this is so, here’s a simple decision-making process to use to assure involvement and a rich, thoughtful outcome:

Be inclusive in your data gathering. Conduct a focus group, chat over coffee, mingle after the staff meeting — all good locales for sharing and testing your preliminary thoughts and inviting alternate points of view.

Generate and explore other solutions. No doubt that solving problems is a big part of your job. Just be sure you’ve read enough, talked enough, and turned over enough rocks to have a full picture of both the problem and potential solutions. Sometimes you find out the problem you’re trying to solve isn’t the problem at all. As you explore, challenge (in a positive, professional way, of course!) the thinking of those involved. Healthy debate is integral to determining the right solution.

Select the best outcome. Be thoughtful in analyzing pros and cons. Ferret out unintended consequences before they happen. Balance the three-legged stool of people, principles and profits.

Double-check your decision. Bounce the problem and proposed solution off an impartial third-party. Get a truly unbiased view of whether your solution is on the mark or misses it. Park the ego, and be willing to return to square one based on what you learn.

Communicate and communicate some more. Double-back with stakeholders (at all levels within the organization) to assure their buy-in. Talk to people who will be impacted by the new system, process, policy, etc. and weigh their feedback. Play angel’s advocate with yourself and with the decision-making team to test assumptions and solutions to see if they hold water.

Make it so. Implement the change, create success measures (both quantitative and qualitative as appropriate) and use a thoughtful plan to monitor progress and maintain ongoing communications.

If you’ve followed this process, then you can say “I’ve done my job!”

Photo credit:  UTCS




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