Making decisions

There are two fundamental flaws in how companies make decisions.

The first one has to do with the amount of information available to make the decision. A balance is needed between decisions made with zero information (“based on my opinion …”, “our manager wants it this way …”, “I strongly believe …”, “it worked at my previous company …”) and decisions made in the pursue of perfect information (“I want to schedule another meeting with …”, “let’s delay this until we get to know …”, “could you please review this one more time?”).

The second one has to do with the duration of the decision taken. The world changes, the information we have available changes, the players change, technology changes. And yet, organisations find it incredibly difficult to say “we were wrong”, or even “let’s try this instead”.

Of course, the first one leads to the second. If the decision was made with zero information, it was a personal decision, and that person (and often the people close to that person) will find it very difficult to change course along the way. If the decision was made after a long process, in search for perfect information, everybody involved got so fed up with going through the details over and over again that most likely they will close an eye and pretend all is ok, rather than start back from scratch.

The trick is having the right amount of people involved in making the decision (make it three to five – never one, never ten) and well defined parameters on which the decision is taken, with checks along the way to see if any of those parameters have shifted.

In all cases, have a process.

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