Strategy Spotlight: 8 Things You Must do Better to Make Better Decisions
I have been thinking lately about what it takes to make decisions. Just recently I was presented with a situation where some major decisions will need to be made.
Ones that impact changes in business and careers focus and could mean going into a whole new direction. So you have to make the best decision with the information at hand for your organization. From that perspective I think there are eight things you must do to make better decisions.
1. Invest in decision making skills.
This is something that holds true today as it did ten years ago or more. I see this as a foundational skill that people need to learn, practice and apply. There are many approaches or methodologies that can be applied in the decision making process whether you are a traditional organization, project based, a committee environment or driven by the board of directors. Often the fundamentals of decision making are missing. Look at the environment and create an appropriate decision making structure.
2. Create time to think ahead.
Time, time and more time is something we don’t have. It has become a luxury that most people can’t afford. Yet making good decisions requires time to reflect and look at the road ahead. What if you are considering changing careers and decide to go in a whole new direction? This is a big decision. This applies to a business venture also. Change and transformation are difficult to do on a whim, often you are required to think and plan ahead. But don’t over think long term plans as things change around you quickly.
3. Know who you serve.
This is an important point to answer. I know a lot of business leaders and professionals who I am completely confident in their ability to get the job done, to move forward and make things happen. But, they lack an important insight and clarity of who they serve. Decision making is a whole lot easier if you know who you serve whether it is a specific target market, an organization or something else. I think it provides opportunities to make mindful decisions and improve innovation and creativity in solving problems due to clarity and focus. It does not matter if you upset the market because you know who you serve.
4. Question everything, especially the business.
I often get asked how I would approach a specific problem. I am in a meeting and someone sets up a scenario and wants to know my approach. Any good business analyst, trainer or consultant will know the basics; define the problem, evaluation solutions, implement the approved solution, and measure the results. Part of the process is to question the business model. Recently I had this happen in a meeting with an executive director. I was presented with a question and responded but within that response I placed questions to better understand the business model of this organization.
Turns out they are looking for a change and the business model is suspect. It is always good to question, even when answering.
5. We can all think in a straight line.
Straight line or linear thinking is the a, b, c, of decision making. With so many organizations talking about innovation, creativity and being intentional I wonder what’s the point. There are many theories about what approach you should take. I still think the best approach to decision making and initiative integration is a mix between predictive and adaptive planning. These two approaches provide the best of both worlds, and when blended, often provide an organization an approach that works beyond the mere linear.
6. Create a story around decisions.
Life is a story and you write it yourself. With every decision there is a story that comes from people discussions, thinking, making assumptions, determining impact and communicating the decision. Wouldn’t it be great if you could create a decision narrative that is beyond the old boring business report? People want to be part of the decision story that makes a difference thus bridging organization gaps. You should create decision making stories.
7. We are all moving at the speed of a click.
Over decades my career has been part of the professional consulting and service economy which has accelerated at lightning speed in recent years. When I look at the professions’ value stream I think we need to make better decisions around the downstream business environment. Clients no longer just order or buy stuff they engage now in a very different way where it becomes difficult to determine the ROI on business activities. Margins wither as the need to provide valuable free content increases making business decisions a challenge to make. No matter the business you are in, the accelerated service economy is impacting your business.
8. Find a tool, reduce your risk and get costs under control.
The strategic business analyst looks at the past, present and future of a strategic plan and approach and use financial analysis of NPV, IRR and ROI within your business case. But it is important to go further and look at risk with uncertainty analysis. This is something that I learned over time from various economic adjustments (ie: dot com bubble burst, corporate and accounting scandals, subprime mortgages issue, and resource industry collapse) I think uncertainty needs to be determined better. Business intelligence and uncertainty reducing tools can be used to assist in this analysis. My point, the business analyst can play an important part in helping organizations make decisions through embracing uncertainty analysis approaches and tools to help deal effectively with unpredictable times.
Big decisions are tough to make, especially when you have invested so much time and effort on your business or focus area. When you work in a space where you are building skills and helping businesses define their future, you start to realize that there are certain truths that exist. One truth, everybody wants to survive and be around a long time. The second truth, that there is always a purpose that needs to be achieved. Third truth, good decisions and core competencies take you a long way to creating a profitable future thus achieving the first two truths.