Depending on the issue you’re confronting or the reason you’re taking action, you may have to conduct extensive research, consult with colleagues who have already successfully faced a similar question, and consult with employees and customers. When doing so, your intention must be to learn rather than to confirm that your own ideas are right. A genuine inquiry builds trust and uncovers key factors critical to decision-making.
The primary goal at this stage of the decision-making process is to look at the situation from as many different angles as you possibly can. Sometimes this task can be difficult, especially when you don’t agree with the ideas you hear, but it is well worth doing nonetheless.
Doing a thorough job of gathering information gives you a wide variety of viewpoints to consider, uncovers potential pitfalls, and reveals unstated needs that must be addressed if your decision is to be effective.
Following are some ways you can gain the varied insight and information you seek:
Monitor and participate in LinkedIn discussions that are relevant to your business.
Subscribe to online newsfeeds like the Huffington Post or other international, national, and regional news outlets.
Participate in professional associations where you find your clients and customers.
Ask employees, customers, and clients for input and information by using focus groups or surveys.
Host information sessions to find out how the constituent groups see the situation.
Consult with your colleagues to find out their views about the project or initiative.
Give employees an opportunity to ask questions of people in leadership and management positions in an open and honest fashion.
The information-gathering stage is typically fluid and fast rather than overly structured.