Most leaders must constantly work at making decisions simple. The implication of a decision will always be complex enough, and sometimes we try to solve or deal with all the implications – the how, who, why, how much and so on at the same time we make the decision.
What are the five to ten most relevant, proven facts in this situation?
- Right up front, distinguish proven facts from what are simply your assumptions. Assumptions are what we believe to be true. They can be very faulty foundations on which to build your decision. A proven fact is “Last month the house down the street sold for X dollars.” An assumptions is “I think houses in this neighborhood will generally sell for about X dollars.”
- The most frequent violation of sound decision making is trying to decide before all the facts are known. Somehow in our minds we have a need to decide now, a need to bring closure, a need to have things settled. Because an undecided situation often brings us stress, our minds compel us to make a decision too quickly before all the facts are in. “Once the facts are clear, the decisions jump out at you.” Find out the facts!
How will this decision impact all the people involved?
- Who are the main players? Who else will be affected? People in other departments? You spouse and children?
What will be the long-term impact of this situation?
- What will be the long term impact of this decision?
- How would this decision affect people a year from now? Five or ten years from now? By the time the children leave home? By the time I retire?
- The more reversible the decision and it’s consequences the freer you are to move faster in making it.
What legal, moral, or ethical concerns are involved in the decision?
- Be clear on these factors, especially if it’s a big decision involving major commitments of money, time, and energy and affecting a number of lives.
- Understand the difference between these three categories. Legality is based on a coded law. Morality is based on a moral code or trust. Ethics are based on an accepted local or cultural standard.
- Sort out these terms and their application to your decision making process, since some decisions you make could be legal and yet immoral or ethical and yet illegal.
Have I written down the basic issues involved in this decision?
- Simply getting everything on paper can be very helpful. The bigger the decision, the more helpful it is.
What are the trends related to this decision?
- A trend line is one way to help you establish a context for sound decision making. As trends change, the context changes. Therefore, the meaning of each fact you’re considering also changes.
- What are the trends related to the major decision you’re making? Are prices going up or down? Is demand greater or less? Are complaints fewer or more frequent?
What other lingering questions do I have?
- Maybe you’ve been ignoring some of the questions or concerns in you mind. Bring them out into the open and be sure you deal with them before you make the decision.
Taken in part from Bobb Biehl’s, Increasing Your Leadership Confidence