Decision Making For Dummies
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In a complex decision-making world, you can have every matrix, software program, or technology tool at your disposal, yet the most powerful element in your decision-making is you. And the best way to improve your decision-making is to just do it. In fact, making decisions is a lot like riding a bicycle. You cruise along until you hit a rock and fall down — and then, like any good rider, you get back up, shake yourself off, and ride on! The key to getting the results you hope for — or better — is to do what good decision-makers do.

Here are ten secrets to great decision-making:

  • Describe what you want to accomplish and why. Basically, you want to know how the outcome will achieve the company's goals or meet customers' needs, while engaging employees. If the idea is half-baked (which is essential to know before you try to communicate the decision to staff or customers), it will become crystal clear as you try to nail down the specifics.

  • Know what is motivating your decision. Be clear about the focus: Are you seeking to get rid of pain or achieve a goal? Remember, focusing on what you don't want rather than what's needed leads to a different result.

    Avoid making a quick decision out of desperation. Give yourself enough time to reflect to ensure that you aren't selecting a "quick fix" solution instead of taking the time to find a more lasting solution.

  • Consider more than one workable alternative — if possible, look at two to three at minimum. More than one workable alternative frees you from becoming attached to a favorite option and seeing too narrowly. You gain flexibility since, as new information arises, you can more easily integrate additional considerations into your thinking while simultaneously widening the range of possibilities.

    In addition, the diversity of alternatives under consideration allows you to consider a wider range of elements crucial to accomplishing the desired results, without looking for them in a single solution. You'll make your decisions faster and with greater confidence.

  • Keep your options open for as long as possible. When conditions are uncertain and dynamically changing, fixing on a solution too early increases risk exposure while decreasing ability to adjust to changing requirements. If you keep options open as long as they are viable, you'll gain more flexibility.

  • Notice your mindset. As a rule, people either want to avoid negative results (fixed mindset), or they want to pursue positive outcomes (growth mindset). Your social and emotional environment, plus the situation you're in influences your outlook.

  • Trust your intuition. Although it's fuzzy and intangible and may fail you from time to time, your intuition handles decisions in high stakes, rapid-fire, dynamically changing conditions in milliseconds. In fact, it can process volumes of information at speeds that make your intellect look like it's on training wheels.

    Your intuition also captures what isn't being said, which is often more telling than facts and figures. Knowing when you've tapped into your intuition helps you when you handle very complex decisions. You'll be less inclined to second guess yourself because you'll know what to trust.

  • Step back to reflect on the results you're seeing. When unexpected results occur, ask, "How did this happen?" Unexpected results come in two forms: awesome and awful. If your results are stellar, you maintain vigilance to sustain continued success. If the results are negative, as in legal issues, communication breakdowns, or troubles in your business's cash flow, it's time to reflect on and improve your decision-making process. You can't avert every mistake, but you can learn from the one's you've made.

    When things go from bad to worse, you can always decide to stop doing what you're doing and to switch to a different approach. Ask yourself," What do I need to stop doing, maintain, or improve?" The answers will help you be more selective about where you're putting your valuable time and energy.

  • Invest in your personal growth. Although often written off as a soft skill, investing in personal growth is fundamental to effective decision-making, especially in unpredictable circumstances. It has spin-off benefits for other key personal and professional relationships in your life.

    Your ability to regulate your emotions and restore a sense of calm is your most valued asset in decision-making. In addition, the more you can rigorously illuminate limiting beliefs that influence your interpretation , the more accurately you'll be able to assess the situation and make decisions.

  • Pay attention to ideas or signals on the fringe of regular thought. Rather than rationalizing unexpected or abnormal data, look more closely, and allow your thinking to be disrupted. When you pay attention to irregularities, you find insights and see what isn't immediately apparent long before it becomes a crisis or missed opportunity. Insights are the source of breakthroughs.

  • Trust in your capacity to expand your perspective, flex your thinking muscles, and broaden your decision-making know-how. How? By making decisions in differing conditions — the more, the better!

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Dawna Jones generates imaginative insights and applies 25 years experience in helping businesses and organizations make bold decisions. She co-designs the future of organizations, transforming them from "business-as-usual" to inclusive cultures of prosperity.

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