“Informed decision-making comes from a long tradition of guessing and then blaming others for inadequate results.” ~ Scott Adams, creator of “Dilbert”
Why is it that some people can see a problem and make a decision on how to fix it in a matter of minutes, and others see that same problem and take days, weeks and even months to find a solution? I’m not talking about major corporate restructuring types of problems and decisions, just everyday run of the mill problems that your customers (and employees) bring to your attention that cumulatively can have a big impact.
Should you invest in a new software program that will speed up customer service issues? Add a new item to the menu, or charge for an amenity that used to be free? These issues need to be thought through on a number of levels. Or maybe it could be something more simple and mundane as making sure there is enough paper for the copier.
Before making key decisions, it’s important to remember:
- Everyone needs to have an idea what decisions he or she is responsible for.
- Everyone needs to understand how these decisions affect the day to day operation.
- It’s best not to involve too many people in the decision making process because then no one is accountable.
There are obviously outside factors that must be taken into consideration, such as budgets, manpower and time line for implementation. I am a big believer in brainstorming when necessary to get multiple points of view, and to make sure you are covering all the bases. Decision making can sometimes be hard, with varying points of view dominating the conversation.
Include the following steps in the decision making process:
- What exactly is the problem, and what is the outcome you are looking for? Why is it important to be solved?
- Gather information that affects the decision. Identify any limiting factors.
- Brainstorm and develop possible solutions. Don’t limit yourself at the beginning. Willow down to the best ones that meet your criteria.
- Analyze and select the best solution. Evaluate based on meeting your goals as well as your corporate values. Go through the pros and cons of each option.
- Determine the best way to implement and put it into action. Once a decision is made and put into operation, it rarely does anyone any good to second guess the final solution.
- Evaluate the outcome and determine any further action steps. What are the lessons learned from the decision, and the decision making process? This will help you in the future when more strategic decisions need to be made.
There are some decisions that will be made very quickly, and don’t need to go through a lengthy process. When that happens, keep an eye on your goals, and use your instinct and intuition.
For key strategic decisions, some business professionals seek outside help to advise in key areas. These mentors turn out to be a vital source of advice, and can offer a fresh set of eyes that may see problems that are over-looked. The bottom line of any decision is improved performance, repeat business and increased customer loyalty.