We are all forced to make decisions. Sometimes these decisions are simple and just a part of everyday life. Other times, these decisions are broad and your decision has the potential to impact many lives along the way.
Peter Drucker studied decision-making closely and wrote a lot about it. He would break down decision-making into 7 steps:
#1) Determine whether a decision is even necessary.
#2) Classify the problem. Is it common or unique?
#3) Define the problem. What is this situation really all about?
#4) Decide on what is right. That is, make the right kind of compromise.
#5) Get others to buy the decision.
#6) Convert the decision into action – that is, make it somebody’s work assignment or responsibility.
#7) Test the decision against actual results.
This is a pretty straightforward process, but each of these steps are critical to making good decisions.
I’ve learned over time that with experience and through making some pretty major mistakes, I’ve learned how to navigate through this process on just about every decision I make, whether they are big decisions or simple personal decisions.
One of the most important steps in this process is the last one, “test the decision against actual results”. Many times, we are too busy to evaluate our decisions. Often we have so many decisions to make that we just run from one to another.
The best way to learn how to make effective decisions is in evaluating the decisions we’ve already made.
The next time you are forced to make a decision (which should be very soon), stop and think through this process. Walk through the steps and take a little longer this time before making the final decision. Think about the process and identify the steps that are difficult and the ones that really help you in the process.
I’m an advocate for quick decision-making, however I don’t want people to make hasty decisions that don’t walk through a validating process along the way. I believe the more you apply these steps, the quicker the process may become as you identify things to look for and as you navigate each step and it’s implication on your decision.
I remember a major decision that I had to make a number of years ago. I made a quick decision, but before I shared it, I stopped and walked through this process. As I went through the process, I realized that I had come to the wrong conclusion, and I changed my mind.
This happens often.
Leaders are called to make decisions. Learn to not only trust your instincts and your “gut”, but learn to trust a process that you walk through with each decision you make.
You will be a better leader if you do this!
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Peter F. Drucker