Estimated reading time: 2 mins
Sometimes, we have to make a quick decision. Going with pure gut instinct is a risky strategy, so what can we do to make a decision, rapidly, that is less risky?
I’ve been in situations (many…) where a quick decision on something is needed. This happens! Some people freak about this, and it’s understandable. The consequences of our #decisions can be grave, and it’s normally down to us to clean up any mess due to a mistake. There are five strategies I use to help me make a less-risky choice:
- Go with best practice. Sometimes, we can’t do a full-blown analysis of choices and their implications using information specific to our situation, so going with best practice can be a safer way of making a decision. Why? Well best practice means it’s the way that many other organizations have operated before, and often there is a lot of information and resources available about taking that route. Finding ‘best practice’ can be as simple as googling your business problem and tagging ‘best practice’ into the search phrase. In more complex environments, external consultants will be better informed as to what ‘best practice’ means in your situation.
- Go for a vote. I should start by saying that collecting votes is infrequently the best way to make a sound decision. But when time is burning, a group decision can be the way to go. Voting is more suited to decisions where voters are similarly skilled/informed. (We probably wouldn’t get the janitor to vote on a new accounting package.) The good thing about voting is that we spread the responsibility for a decision and we get a wider perspective. However, we’re still accountable for the decision, so the buck still stops with us.
- Simplify the Critical Success Factors. Occasionally, we get bogged down with too many decision criteria. These make selection tough! If you need to make a quick decision, then reduce the criteria down to only the very critical ones, and lose the rest. Keep reducing the criteria until one option jumps out.
- Split-test. Split-testing is simply choosing all options, and measuring the effectiveness of each. If the cost (in terms of money, time and other resources) is low, then split-testing is very effective, because we get to see each option work in reality. Say we want to choose a word-processing package. Why not try all of them and see what works best? Most products come with free trials.
- Do nothing. Doing nothing IS a decision. It is a decision to do nothing. Sometimes, this is a good decision. Maintaining the status-quo means we’re sticking to what we know and the risk is a known quantity. It’s important to be conscious about a ‘do nothing’ decision – do nothing still has consequences. We should ask: why were we required to make the decision in the first place? What was the ‘business case’ (reason) for making it? If we do nothing, then the expected benefits of the decision won’t be realised.
I found this neat book titled 151 Quick Ideas for Delegating and Decision Making which has many great tips on making decisions quickly. If you’re in a high-pressure environment (who isn’t nowadays?) then this book is for you!