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I've found while I may make a decision to act and later regret it, that regret remains with me a lot less than the regret I feel when I know that I should have done something and I don't do it! I believe this common for most decision makers: while we enjoy and celebrate our successes, it is the "ones that get away" that provides us with an undue amount of irritation. Why? Because when we realize the course of action we should take, and for a variety of reasons, don't take it, we immediately realize those missed opportunities can never be recaptured. Of course, other opportunities will present themselves but it will not be "that" opportunity—the one we know would have made a significant difference if we had acted.

The opportunity to take action and accomplish a significant difference is facing every person who is tasked with the welfare of the organization and its stakeholders. This includes every Manager, Supervisor and Front Line Leader employed by the organization. The ability to recognize an opportunity and act on the realization will be the difference between those who provide value to the organization and those who do not. Why does this ability to act matter so much now? Because a good economy allows even badly run companies—those that do not see nor cannot act on opportunities—to succeed; however, a bad economy is unforgiving and will not tolerate poorly run operations, managed by those who either fail to act or act poorly. With this reality in mind, here are the necessary Characteristics of an Effective Decision Maker:

Ø They know the objective of the decision making process and properly define the issue to generate the proper resolution.

Ø They have a personal decision making process that allows them to simplify the problem and arrive at an appropriate resolution.

Ø They know that hope is not a resolution and wishful thinking and waiting for a miracle will not properly decide an issue.

Ø They realize assumptions about time, costs, cooperation, benefit, information, culture and resources limit resolution as does allowing the status quo to dictate the future when the environment has changed

Ø They have a high tolerance for the unknown and the requirement for change.

Ø They view every decision as an opportunity to generate operational improvement.

Ø They know decisions must be based on either process or personnel and are able to determine the difference between the two.

Ø They build buy-in and alternative resolutions by soliciting diverse input and separating fact from opinion.

Ø They make a decision only when they have sufficient relevant data to support the resolution.

Ø They use both logic and "gut instinct" to make decisions.

Ø They pull the trigger and implement the decision only when they have made a timely decision and won't let fear of failure delays/stops the implementation of the decision.

Ø They consider the total effects any decision can have before making and implementing it.

Finally, as important as it is to know when to make a decision effective decision makers know when to not make a decision:

Ø When they are incapable of rational thought (angry or stressed).

Ø Just to "get even."

Ø For the wrong reason (only because the boss or the team thinks it's a good idea).

Ø When they do not have enough time to fully consider the problem.

Ø When their "gut instinct" (based on sufficient experience) tells them not to.

Ø When they have not considered all the consequences.

Decision making and effective communications remain the two most prized skill sets Managers can possess. And, as with any skill set, the more they are practiced the better the results obtained from using them.