Decision making is a central requirement for being a leader. You get bombarded with choices to make; some are small, some are big, some are even epic. The consequences of your decisions can create destiny.
According to Thomas Saaty at the University of Pittsburgh:
“We are all fundamentally decision makers. Everything we do consciously or unconsciously is the result of some decision. The information we gather is to help us understand occurrences, in order to develop good judgments to make decisions about these occurrences. Not all information is useful for improving our understanding and judgments. If we only make decisions intuitively, we are inclined to believe that all kinds of information are useful and the larger the quantity, the better. But that is not true. There are numerous examples, which show that too much information is as bad as little information.”
What is your decision process? Are you participative; having others weigh in? Are you dictatorial? Or do you vary the process depending on the gravity of the situation?
If you Google the term “decision making” you likely will find a common sequence repeated over and over again. Experts on the subject differ in their ways to describe the process, but these key components are present in most explanations. It goes like this:
1. Identify the problem or opportunity
2. Gather information
3. Analyze the situation
4. Develop options
5. Evaluate alternatives
6. Select a preferred alternative
7. Act on the decision
Steps 2 thru 5 have the greatest opportunity to involve multiple inputs and factors.
Building consensus looks something like this.
One View Isn’t Enough for Good Decision Making
Seldom is one view enough. Usually decisions involve a series of facts and circumstances that have to be reviewed. The various elements need to be stacked against each other, weighed and measured to come up with the decision.
Great executives have staff members around them; trusted advisors who weigh in as needed to present alternating views.
Ronald Reagan was quoted as saying:
Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.
Military generals make the final decision about strategy and execution of plans, but many, many others are involved in the planning.
Small businesses and work team managers can operate with the same principle. If you are the leader, you never have to be alone. Get input. Have trusted advisors; friends or colleagues who you know will provide honest, objective input.