8 Steps to Making Decisions Decisively

Being able to make good decisions quickly is essential to business success. If you find yourself hesitating when it comes to making a choice, here are seven steps that can help you be more decisive.

5. Don’t let data overload get you down. Columbia University’s Sheena Iyengar ran the famous “jam test,” which showed that when we are faced with too many varieties of jam to purchase, we are overwhelmed and choose to buy none. 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 think that 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. We will never have every piece of information so its essential that we learn to recognize when we have enough data to make a decision and move forward.

6. Clarify your values. When you go to a fast food restaurant do you get flummoxed when they ask you if you want to upsize your meal? Of course not. You have your own pre-established heuristic when it comes to fast food. Fast Food = Fat = “No thanks.” Or Upsize = Good Value = “Yes please!” Yes or no is easy. If you walked into the same fast food place with no sense of whether you valued health over bang-for-your-buck, the decision would be more difficult. When your values are clear, decision making is easier. It’s important that companies have clearly defined values statements so that employees have a framework on which to base their decisions.

7. Clarify your corporate strategy. It’s easier to make a decision when you have a clearly articulated strategy and goals. The best decision is simply the one that drives you toward your goals. The clearer and simpler the strategy, whether it is personal or corporate, the easier it is to make a choice. Let’s say you have the opportunity to hire a new VP of Marketing. If you have a clear strategy that you are transitioning from being a office product retailer to being a physical and online business solutions provider, you would tend to look for a marketing person with relationship-development skills rather than one with merchandising expertise within a bricks and mortar environment. Clear strategy drives clear decisions.

8. Practice makes perfect. Practice making decisions as often as you can. Many decisions require wading through information, doing a detailed analysis, and engaging stakeholders. Many decisions don’t. Practice making decisions so the decision-making process becomes second nature. You’ll come to learn what decisions you can make quickly and simply make them. You’ll learn what decisions take more time to research and will feel more comfortable asking for extra time. If you routinely let everyone else choose the restaurant, vacation destination, or paint color, start making decisions. Decision making is a skill than can be crafted with time and practice.

If you follow a decision making process and keep the above 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.


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