The do's and dont's of decision making
Updated: Aug 30, 2018
Decision making is a skill and process imperative in today’s dynamic, fast-paced business environment.
Industries are competitive, and players are differentiated by their ability to make strong, calculated and proactive decisions.
Perhaps you have difficulty making good decisions, you experience self-doubt during and after making one, or your past decisions have failed you.
The good news is that decision-making is an ability that you don’t need to be born with – it can be practised, refined and mastered.
All decisions carry some type of risk or compromise, and often, complex decisions act as a catalyst for future opportunities or challenges, so when approaching them, confidence and clarity is crucial.
To guide you through a successful journey, we’ve complied a list of do’s and don’ts…
Don’t assume you know all the information.
If you’re making an important decision, every detail is important. Avoid surprises, because if you’re missing any relevant information, your decision is already flawed.
Do frame the problem.
The first step to effective decisions is truly understanding what is involved, clarifying all possibilities and outcomes, even if this adds time to your process. What type of decision is being made – routine, strategic, tactical or operational? Spend time on clarifying the facts, it’ll be worth it.
Don’t make off-the-bat choices.
When you feel pressure, it’s common to take the ‘flight’ response and make a hasty decision. These types of decisions commonly come back with a vengeance – you’ll pay for them later. Remember, approaching a decision with a steady and measured approach increases your chances of a steady and measured outcome.
Do trust your instinct.
While you don’t want to rash choices, you will want to check in with your instincts and pay attention to your gut feeling. Deep down, we often know the right course of action to take, all we need is to be able to evaluate that objectively.
Don’t try to please everyone.
Your decision may impact a lot of people, and as such, they will be invested in what you choose. This is challenging because no one likes to disappoint or alienate others, however, at the end of the day, what’s right for the greater good and the business is key.
Do seek advice or feedback.
While it’s never a clever idea to have too many cooks in the kitchen, you can seek support, advice or feedback. Diverse or fresh perspectives on a decision, particularly from people not directly invested in the decision, can provide you with varied factors to consider.
Don’t do what you’ve always done.
This is one of the easiest traps of decision-making – taking the same course of action from the past. Every decision you make will have different outcomes, and therefore requires a unique approach.
Do reflect on past choices.
Not taking the same course of action doesn’t mean you can’t reflect on the choices you or others have made in the past, as long as you use those decisions for insight, not as templates.
Don’t allow your emotions or personal bias to get in the way.
Keep your ego in check, and aim to separate your personal opinions on people or situations as much as you can. This is imperative, as rationality and objectivity are key in making truly successful and effective decisions.
Do keep an open mind.
Seek out all the information and results you possibly can, and while you may have an ideal outcome in mind, maintain flexibility. This is a sign of resilience, and will keep you in action regardless of the outcome.
Ultimately, decision-making occurs daily, and good decision making is crucial for success, both professionally and personally. The do’s and don’ts we’ve shared with you today will guide you through making clear and confident choices, improving your decision-making skills and empowering you.