Six Basic Elements Essential in Making Sound Decisions

Published November 6, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

This week our posts are focused on the concept that the decision-making process is a skill. Once we accept this premise we can understand better, that this skill, like any other we focus on, can and usually will improve. For instance, as one gains more experience making decisions, one becomes more familiar with the tools and structures that are needed for effective decision-making. Plus, the most perceptive decision makers have discovered that the ability to develop better decision making skills, also helps improve self-confidence.

On Wednesday, our discussion left off with the six essential steps in the decision-making process. Today we take a closer look at each of those steps:

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1. Establishing a Positive Decision-Making Environment

When a group of people gather for a specific reason, at times the discussion tends to lose focus because of each individual’s different experience of it. This occurs when the decision-making environment hasn’t been established. In order to establish a decision-making environment it is essential that everyone involved comprehend what the issue is before preparing to come to any conclusions. This would include an agreement on the objective, keeping focus that the issue at hand is being evaluated honestly, and complying on the process to move the decision forward.

Another clear component that must be addressed are the key interpersonal considerations at the onset. For example, have all the stakeholders been included? Do the individuals involved in the decision-making process engage in respectful communication to one another? Are the participants engaging in active listening? Are they able to keep an open mind and encourage the flow of an honest discussion? After all, if only the strongest opinions are heard, or worse, the group is being controlled by a gatekeeper, there is a risk that not all the best solutions will be considered or available to reach a goal that has a fair outcome for all involved.

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2. Generating Positive Solutions

Another essential component of developing an effective decision-making process is the ability to generate as many good alternative solutions as sensibly possible. If the first solution is decided on and implemented quickly for the sake of simplicity, then there’s a good chance that even greater alternatives may be overlooked.

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3. Evaluating Alternatives

This stage is more often than not the most time-consuming part of the decision-making process. The negative aspect of exploring alternatives can sometimes result in a decision never be made. Therefore, in order to make this step efficient, the decision-makers must be clear about the factors they want to include in the analysis process.

To make the best decision possible, the smartest leaders consider the following three key factors as essential components in the consideration process:

  1. Risk – most decisions involve some level of risk. However the decision-makers must uncover and understand these risks so that they can make the best possible choice.
  2. Consequences – no one can predict the implications of the decision with 100% accuracy. However, decisions can be made more carefully and systematically when leaders identify and evaluate possible consequences.
  3. Feasibility – decision-makers must evaluate whether the choice is realistic as well as implementable. This is an element that is often overlooked. This means that the decision-makers have to consider certain constraints as well when making a decision. As part of this evaluation stage, leaders must ensure that the alternative they are considering is significantly better than the status quo.

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4. Deciding

Making a decision can be both stressful as well as exciting. To help leaders deal with their emotions as objectively as possible, it is recommended they use a structured approach in the decision-making process. This requires looking at what is most important in making a good decision. Leaders that take the time to think ahead and determine exactly what will make the decision “right” can significantly improve their results and decision accuracy.

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5. Checking the Decision

The most successful leaders remember that some components about the decision-making process are not objective. For example, some believe that in addition, their decision has to make sense on an intuitive instinctive level as well. So far the decision-making process has been based on the perspectives and experiences of the leaders involved. It is at this time the decision-makers must also evaluate whether the decision has validity and make sense. Furthermore, if the decision being contemplated is a significant one, then it’s also worth auditing to make sure that assumptions are correct and that the logical structure used to make that decision is sound.

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6. Communicating and Implementing

The final stage in the decision-making process includes communicating the decision and developing a system to implement it. There are leaders who choose to force their decision on others by demanding acceptance. This is a, “because I said so approach” which can result in negative outcomes. Alternatively, leaders are in a better place to gain acceptance by offering an explanation as to how and why their decision was reached. For most decisions – particularly those that need participants to agree before implementation – the most effective strategy is to explain the decision-making process. In other words, leaders that include a plan which discloses how the decision was arrived at and offer steps to effectively implement that plan, are more likely to achieve successful outcomes. This is because people typically respond positively to a clear plan – one that reveals what to expect and what is required.

Well, that’s a wrap for this week’s posts! We will continue this discussion next week by taking a closer look at the importance of decision-making and being assertive with them in the workplace. Until then … have a great weekend everyone, and keep working on improving your organizational management skills!

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“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale

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