Better Decision Making
Decision-making is foundational in creating a sustainable competitive advantage. The key distinguishing factor between world-class leaders and all the rest is their ability to make better decisions and solve more problems than their competition. Leaders bring different styles, skill sets, and information to the table when seeking to make a decision. So how can you cut through the noise and unleash your potential for healthy, effective, and efficient decision-making?
1. To Slow Down or Speed Up? That is the Question.
By boiling decision-making into a fast vs. slow binary, we often miss the significance of situational decision-making. Many leaders are predisposed to value one style of thinking over the other, whether aware of the bias or not. Faster decisions, generally, seem more valuable to many leaders due to the state of the everchanging and evolving economic environment. However, leaders may find a more robust strategy when slowing down to account for more variables as data presents itself.
Time is an incredibly persuasive piece to this puzzle. Leaders consistently find themselves constricted by time. Situations bleed into one another, hindering our ability to rely on the given information. When moving from fighting fires to strategic alignment and vision casting, it's easy to understand why our biases get in the way of effectiveness.
Creative solutions arise in different ways. We often get the order of creativity wrong by expecting that throwing a group of talented people in a room and quickly brainstorming will bring about good ideas. This framework leaves little time for thinking about and listening to the ideas at hand. Teams will spend more time formulating a response than generating new ideas. It's more effective to provide time for individuals ahead of the discussion to wander creatively, whether fast or slow (after all, there is a reason why many people have their best ideas in the shower).
Individually brainstorm the ideas, then present them in groups to build upon, critique, and debate.
2. Encourage Collaboration
Collaboration is the bedrock of healthy decision-making in psychologically safe cultures. While leaders often move into groups too quickly, collaboration is essential to effective decision-making. Engaging with others helps leaders move beyond their biases, understand the impacts of different avenues for action, and empower the team to take responsibility for their leadership.
This way of collaboration isn't necessarily new. Still, it flies in the face of traditional approaches to leadership challenges built on position, strength, and authority in favor of authenticity, transparency, and influence. As old school leadership loses effectiveness, the new pillars must engage leaders on a human level beyond the temptations to compartmentalize work life from the person. Holistic leadership understands the importance of collaboration to reach an ideal decision and create an environment where vital decisions thrive. In a sense, it's a chicken and egg approach.
3. Provide a Framework for Action
One of the greatest hindrances to a meaningful decision-making process is cluttered choices. How leaders frame decisions or problems has as much to do with the outcome as the other factors. In many ways, this fuels the types of collaboration that occur and the understanding of the situation. Eric J. Johnson splits the parties involved in decision-making into two groups: designers and choosers. Designers frame the decision. By acting as "choice architects," they deliver the information concerning the dilemma for choosers to make a decision. Choosersultimately decide or provide alternatives for an ultimate decision-maker to step in for the final say.
How leaders frame or design the problem shapes how teams solve it—framing decisions within the organization's vision, values, and purpose sets choosers up for greater efficiency and effectiveness. The purpose must be at the heart of all decision-making processes. This framework provides clarity around particular problems and desired outcomes. By creating guardrails, problem solvers have a simplified decision-making process, and situational decisions occur more quickly and effectively. This aid effectively unleashes creativity to flow towards a target without getting lost in the weeds of unnecessary information.
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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash