A Basic Skill for Managers: Decision Making


Not just throwing dices

Not just throwing dices

What is that makes a good manager? Good decisions, many would say. Issue is that, apparently, many managers find it more and more difficult to take decisions. Of course the ubiquitous phrase “go with your gut” tells us a lot about the importance of instinct and intuition in decision-making. But… not everybody is ready to go this way. And elements such as reason and experience need to come into scope.

The key issue of decision-making is making sure it comes at the right time. This means that a key skill needed for managers, is taking decision by balancing the need of detailed knowledge and the timeliness of the decision.

There are many Decision-Making tools that can help different people to sustain their decision-making approach. However, I’d like to recap what a good decision should be about.

First of all decision-making is a process that needs to involve various steps:

  1. Identify the purpose of your decision. What is exactly the problem that needs to be solved? Why should it be solved? Is there a need at all for a decision?
  2. Gather information. What factors does the problem involve? Do you have access to all the necessary information, or at least the critical ones?
  3. Identify how to evaluate alternatives. Every problem will have more than one solution, and decision-making is about making sound judgements about the best one. However, before rushing into the decision, you should ask yourself what standards and judgement criteria should the solution meet.
  4. Brainstorm to identify and list the different possible choices. Especially if you think only one solution is available, try to use creative thinking to list option for your decision.
  5. Evaluate alternatives in terms of consequences. this is the key step, and involves evaluating pros and cons of each possible solution based
  6. Determine the best alternative, if you have followed steps 1 to 5 this is going to be an easier step. Make sure you list the reasoning and apply the chosen identification criteria.
  7. Put the decision into action. Transform your decision into a specific action or plan, and start execution. One of the biggest issues in decision making is that sometime managers take the decision, but don’t start the execution.
  8. Evaluate the outcome of your decision and action steps.  Other key step to make sure you can learn from your own decision making process.

When facing such a process, most of the managers tell “but I don’t have the time to do all of this”. Well, this is only partially true. On a specifically defined issue, step 1 to 7 can take literary minutes, and do not necessarily need brainstorming sessions, workshops or other thing. And this is the key issue many managers have: they feel that each and every decision needs to be shared with team / colleagues / suppliers / stakeholders etc. This is not good decision making. Involving people that will not be accountable for the decision, will not necessarily improve your decision-making process. Of course, they can provide valuable inputs. But for sure, a meeting is not the best way to take a decision.

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