Decision Making For Dummies
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If you look back on the best and worst decisions you’ve ever made, you’ll probably discover that you don’t make the best decisions in stressful circumstances. But stressful conditions happen all the time, you say.

There’s a difference between a stressful event that must be addressed or resolved (equipment breakdown on your production line is jeopardizing your being able to complete or ship a big order to an important customer, for example) and the stress caused by being in a work environment — often characterized by unreasonable workloads, unsupportive managers, excessively long work days, and so on — that puts employees on high alert 24/7 with no end in sight.

In this type of workplace environment, the stage is set for poor decision-making. Inherent to making good decisions is designing the workplace that supports better decision-making. This means converting unhealthy workplaces into healthy ones. Healthy decision-making environments have common characteristics. Here are a few of them:

  • They instill a sense of belonging and community among coworkers.

  • The relationships are professional, and the company’s purpose is front and center.

  • Shared values underpin what is important to the company and its employees, and these values anchor decision-making in both good and tough times.

  • Leaders exist at every level, decision-making is decentralized, and decision-making processes are in place. Employees at every level take personal responsibility for making decisions and accepting the consequences.

  • Communication is open and honest, even when the news isn’t good, and any issues are brought forward through informal and formal feedback loops so that adjustments can be made without delay.

  • Learning — even learning from mistakes — is valued, which, in addition to strengthening the organization’s decision-making, makes it more adaptive and resilient in uncertain and changing conditions.

  • Complexity and uncertainty are valued, and decision-making isn’t driven by the fear of losing control. Instead, decision-makers engage their and others’ creativity to actively respond to new challenges.

A company with a healthy decision-making environment is the kind of company that creates value through its relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, and stakeholders. Rather than being too big to fail, it is too valuable to fail. Restoring trust and ethical integrity in business is the way in which your business can do business more intelligently and intuitively and become a force for good.

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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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