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Creating Success through Decision


In today's environment decision-making has become one of the clearest indicators of successful performance outcomes. The responsibility impacts everything from what you put into your body to employee safety and your process can determine client engagement, client confidence and market positioning.

As a young man I made my share of good and bad decisions (if you ask people close to me they might say mostly bad!) My father let me know in what I thought was a passing conversation at 14 that he didn't like the choices I was making in friends and that I needed to re-evaluate or, if not, he would choose them for me. The following year I found myself starting my Junior year in high school in a military academy in Latin America. My pop was no joke and when you don't make good choices it's not uncommon to find yourself in situations that allow others to make decisions for you. Over the years I have found that circumstance also dictates decision-making creating pivot points connected to opportunity as well as forcing rapid decision-making to avoid pain.

In today's well connected, multiple input world decision making must be grounded in data-based information connected to thoughtful analysis from subject matter expertise that provides multiple options and delivers on the value you have committed to. This is no easy feat, since we do not always know if info is reliable, cannot always afford the right experts, often find choices are limited and find varying levels of buy-in across our stakeholders.

According to a Harvard Business Review analysis, “decision effectiveness and financial results correlated at a 95% confidence level or higher” in other words the ability of an organization to make solid decisions yields results. They went further and added that businesses “that were most effective at decision making and execution generated average total shareholder returns nearly six percentage points higher than those of other firms” (https://hbr.org/2010/06/the-decision-driven-organization). I find that in today's chaotic, constant and often confusing stream of messaging and information, your decision making process can be the difference between your organization excelling or hanging on for dear life.

Some tools that we find help us maintain solid decision-making processes include:

1.Weigh all available options and seek out others that you may not have thought about.

Ensuring that you have the broadest view into what options are and exploring alternatives provide by others will give you the ability to create a solution mix that drives to the highest outcome.

2. Do not house the decision-making process in a single individual.

Whether it’s you or someone inside of your organization the decision process needs to involve multiple sources, include people that touch the process or project and leverage external knowledge to ensure solid insights and data points are included. If you are the boss or have a key responsible person, they can own the final say, but the process itself needs to be disbursed to ensure the full review is genuine.

3. Include the folks who will own the work.

Empowerment equals ownership and also secures accountability. By securing the input of the people who actually touch the work you create a connection to the decision and are able to make sure that those involved own the process that comes out of the decision and the responsibility for delivering on it.

4. Create measurements that allow for pivots if and when they are needed.

The only thing worse than a bad decision is the inability to get away from it. As you decide on a path also include the markers, KPI’s, and milestones that will allow you to revisit the decision and adopt changes as needed along the way. This is also a powerful way to gain buy-in from leaders that still have doubt about where the organization or team is heading with a specific decision and gives them the ability to acquire real time evidence as the process or project moves forward.

5. Memorialize and communicate it.

Once the decision is made make sure all affected parties are aware and understand where you are heading and what the expectations are. Putting it in writing whether its in meeting notes or on the wall in the break room lets everyone know what is happening, where the team is heading and what path you are taking.

No organization is right 100% of the time, there will always be a need to react to the unknown or unexpected (Think COVID-19 shut downs) and opportunities to coarse correct, but providing a real process that weighs multiple options, is inclusive, offers paths to course correct and is clearly understood cuts out the barrage of noise and allows for solid footing no matter what choices you make. 

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