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Have a Decision Making Process


As people, specifically managers, make decisions all day long. Not every decision is the same. Deciding what to eat for breakfast doesn't take on the same significance as buying a new house. Yet, people seem to make these decisions in much the same way - they think about the pro's and con's, they may ask a few people, do a little research, and then decide.

Successful managers realize that this isn't the most effective way to make decisions, especially as they get bigger. It is why I recommend that managers develop a process that they can use. This ensures they deal with all the issues and can be a great protection against making bad decisions.

Note: Remember that good and bad decisions has little to do with the eventual outcome.

Not every decision needs a lengthy analysis process. Many decisions can probably be done with a simple process. For example, when an employee requests a day off, it may be a simple process of asking if that will impact anything critical.

However, the bigger decisions should have a process. By process, I mean a series of consistent questions that are reviewed and answered before a decision is made. For example, when deciding to take on a new project, you will want to answer many questions:

  • Do my people have the expertise?

  • Do my people have the time? If not, what projects would be delayed?

  • Do I have the budget?

  • What other resources will I need?

  • What would happen if this project fails?

And so on. Depending on the impact and complexity, you could have dozens of questions to answer. This doesn't mean months-long analysis (usually). Some questions in your analysis process might not be relevant for that specific decision. However, you want to have a list of these questions that you can refer to for consistency.

A great team project would be to start to put together your decision making process. What questions should be asked is the first step. As you use it, refine the question list and measure how well it worked.

One last benefit to having this process, your team will know what you are thinking in the decision process. This means when they come to you with a request, they've probably already done a lot of the thinking related to answering these questions, simplifying the process.

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