I’m back with more on decision-making because in this perilous economic climate, which shows no signs of abating, the ability to make good decisions is so crucial. Our survival depends upon being able to size up a situation or puzzle through a dilemma and make wise choices that will put us on the right path, whether we are Freelancers, business owners or employed/unemployed professionals.
But then again, when in history has good decision-making not been an important skill? The results of wise decisions made by the pharaohs in Egypt gave the world a magnificent civilization that thrived for 3000 years and the architectural wonders that are the Sphinx and the pyramids. Doing business has always been about making decisions, in ancient times and the present.
Often, we must make decisions fast and on the fly. Data available may be incomplete and possibly unreliable. The ground shifts underfoot and the clock is ticking. We’re anxious and stressed, maybe borderline panicky. Critical thinking is probably clouded by our biases, born of preferences, fears and past experiences that we pass off as intuition or gut feelings. It’s disturbingly easy to be blind to the smart decision that is staring us in the face.
But if we intend to survive and maybe even thrive, we have to learn to play the had that’s dealt and that means making the right decisions in a timely fashion because time is money. We can get some much-needed assistance from author Guy Hale, who provides useful guidance on how we can learn to make credible decisions in an imperfect world in his book “Think Fast: Accurate Decision-Making, Problem-Solving and Planning” (2011). Hale recommends the following:
I. Figure things out
Analyze your situation and see the big picture. Gain an understanding of how and why you are faced with this decision. Did your actions, or inaction, bring you to this point, or was it circumstance? Discover the root cause.
Maybe your decision is a positive one, like you’ve been invited to work with a new client or form a strategic partnership with a colleague. You’ll need to determine whether the arrangement is likely to be a good fit and that means weighing your options and making a decision.
II. Plan and act
Identify the time frame in which you must respond. Identify potential obstacles and risks and the unknowns that may impact the outcome of the decision, to the best of your ability. Identify factors in your favor and how you can best employ and magnify them to your advantage. Draw up a list of people who will become your allies, willing to help you if needed and do the same to identify those likely to oppose you.
Use scenario planning to project possible outcomes for the decision: best-case scenario, worse-case scenario and a couple more that split the difference. Consider the short and long-term consequences of your choices and think also about who and what will be impacted by what you decide and how they are likely to react.
III. Factor in Murphy’s Law
Do whatever you can to prevent events from turning sour by controlling everything that you can control, while recognizing that some things may not go according to plan. Have Plan B (and maybe also Plan C) ready to roll, just in case. Know that you’ve been thorough and diligent in your decision-making process and have faith. Try to relax and roll with the punches and learn from any errors in judgment.
Thanks for reading,