Master your decision making rather than let choices master you
Decision making can be tough, especially when it may mean undoing the well-intentioned efforts you and your employees previously made. One of western
history’s biggest decision-makers, Napoleon, had this to say: Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decideâ€. However, although it’s true that decisions are easier for some people than for others, it is not an innate talent, but something you can train yourself to do.
To opt for the sudden and new can be tempting. But beware simply leaping wildly into the unknown as a reaction against failure. It is at these times that Euripides’ words on the subject of decision making are worth heeding: Second thoughts are ever wiserâ€. Having left time to do its work, in other words having slept on the decision, use common sense and add a dash of humility before acting. Sound advice from experienced managers is to involve others in the decision. Canvas opinion, then distil the results. The best people to consult are those who have no vested interest, who played no part in earlier unsuccessful initiatives.
Beware beating yourself up. The result is that you clamp your mind in a vice, not a healthy state for the decision making process. Any re-think or re-invention crucially demands a positive approach. The demon which can kill that positivity is the one that tells you to be hard on yourself. It is important as a manager that you let go of any guilt feelings. They are quite simply unproductive.
Turn previous less than successful decision making into a learning process. Similarly, let go of any purposeless resentment about choices that failed to work out. Instead, extract useful lessons.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s comments on some of Europe’s less wise decisions can be read in the Wall Street Journal.
And the ability of machines to make our decisions for us is explored by The Economist’s blogger Babbage.