Being able to make good decisions quickly is essential to business success. If you find yourself hesitating when making choices, these eight steps can help you be more decisive and avoid procrastination.
1. Have a clear decision-making process
If you don't have a good critical thinking process in place, you may be reluctant to make important decisions.
A good decision-making process will help you know when you have enough information to move forward. Making good decisions requires gathering information to see what is happening, generating possible solutions, evaluating what solution best solves your problem, and making sure all key stakeholders buy into your choice.
2. Embrace ambiguity
Many people dislike ambiguity and believe they cannot make a decision until they know exactly what is going on. In business, however, absolute certainty is rare: customer demands change, new competitors enter the market, and regulatory shifts occur.
Good decision makers learn to gather available information, predict possible changes, analyze data, and get feedback from others to engage them in the process. Even in an uncertain environment, you can be confident that you have made the best decision given the information available at the time.
Decide, then move on: there are new decisions to be made.
3. Speed up by slowing down
We tweet, we text, we answer emails until our thumbs seize. We digest more information in a week than people used to absorb in a year.
And every quarter, we are judged on our performance. So we must be making decisions quickly, right? Wrong. A frenzy of activity often make us less able to make decisions.
Decisions require some focused thinking and discussion, and that rarely happens while tweeting or getting on and off planes. Spending a few hours engaged in a decision-making process can be one of the most effective uses of your time.
4. Accept risk
Making decisions involves taking risks. Being overly risk-averse can cause us to freeze—but doing nothing is almost always worse than doing something.
Companies that want to move forward know mistakes will be made, and they make employees feel secure in spite of that. They put safeguards in place to mitigate risk but are aware that mistakes will happen sometimes.
5. Don’t let data overload get you down
An abundance of choice leads to decision paralysis. We now have more data available on our phones than was once stored in the best graduate school libraries.
We sometimes think the answer lies “out there,” and with a bit more time we will stumble across the one piece of data that will help us make the perfect decision.
But we’ll never have every piece of information, so we must learn to recognize when we have enough data to make a decision and move forward.
6. Clarify your values
When your values are clear, decision making is easier. Companies should have clearly defined values statements so employees have a framework on which to base their decisions.
7. Clarify your corporate strategy
It’s easier to make decisions when you have a clearly articulated strategy and goals. The best decision is simply the one that drives you towards your goals.
Clear strategy drives clear decisions.
8. Practice makes perfect
Practice making decisions as often as you can. Many decisions require wading through information, doing detailed analyses, and engaging stakeholders—but many decisions don’t.
Practice making decisions so the process becomes second nature. Decision-making is a skill than can be crafted with time and practice.
If you follow a decision-making process and keep these points in mind, you will have everything you need to make great decisions that other people embrace. You will have to find another reason to procrastinate.