How to Make Tough Decisions
Have you heard of analysis paralysis? You know, that creeping feeling that causes your spine to tingle as your mind is flooded with this thought and that thought and all possible outcomes. One would hope it gets easier to make decisions when they are big – where to move, what job to take, and what the next big step is for one’s business. Unfortunately, for most people, this is not the case. That worry can become so uncomfortable that we find all kinds of ways to avoid it. This will not lead to success.
Even hesitation and procrastination are decisions and you need to decide if they serve you or not.
Here is some hard-learned advice from my own past business. Establishing a clear process for making decisions is essential for consistency and communication between yourself and your team. These are the strategies for bulletproof decision-making that you and your team can get behind:
- The Business Case: this method includes statistics, research, numbers, and impacts on the business. What could go wrong and right are considerations too. Include a financial forecast and summarize it with enough exposition to explain the implications. This approach uses data, facts, and analysis to provide a comprehensive look at the possible outcomes of the decision.
- The Scorecard Method: this method is a lot like making a pros and cons list. First, determine a few relevant criteria categories. For example, if the decision is who to hire out of a slew of candidates, establish 3 categories that are priorities to you and your mission. This could be passion, professionalism, and experience. Then, rate each candidate out of 10 on each of these categories. Finally, add up each person’s scores and choose the winner.
- Expert Advice: this one is pretty straightforward – consult an expert. This is especially important when making major decisions, or ones that cause a divide within the team. Finding an expert on the subject matter can bring clarity, an insider perspective, and cohesion to your team while helping you make a decision. This is especially useful for ‘riskier’ choices such as with expensive moves or business next steps.
Which of these stands out to you? Maybe try them all out and see which is most instinctive.
Speaking of instincts, these common reactions can reveal a lot about your natural decision-making process. See which apply to you, and find out what role they play in your new decision-making strategy.
- The instant read – intuition or a gut decision. Consult your decision-making framework. How does this fit in? Can it be trusted or not?
- The niggle – the quiet nagging thought. Maybe it keeps you up at bedtime, this idea that something must be missing. This is a good indication that you need more evidence to make an informed decision.
- The false lead – this can easily be mistaken for the instant read. The difference here is that the false lead is a triggered, emotional response that may not be as well informed as the instant read. Analyzing the patterns that bring you here is essential to making a comprehensive decision-making process.
- A written record – take notes and jot down anything and everything – questions, gut reactions, and most importantly, what got you here. Self-reflection is critical for learning about your own decision-making process, and keeping a written record is a great start.
These are the tools that have helped me navigate some seemingly ‘treacherous’ business decisions – decisions that seemed like life or death for my business and me. Let these ideas be a starting framework for you. With them, you can kick analysis paralysis to the curb as you continue leveling up your business.