As a Senior E-Myth Consultant for nearly ten years we had a specific process labeled “Special Decision Techniques” that we were able to provide for our clients to help them in decision making. This process noted four factors that make business decisions difficult:
- Lack of information
- Timing differences between alternatives
- Uncertainty about the possible outcomes of the decision
- A decision maker with an indecisive personality
Further it noted that if you could solve the first three, you'd probably make the fourth disappear - with the right information, certainty about outcomes, and a thorough understanding of the impact of timing differences, even the most indecisive of managers can confidently make sound decisions.
One of the interesting concepts this introduced me to is how decisions over time can have varying impacts due to present value of money. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, or dollar a year from now. It should be an important part of your decision making process.
What makes a great decision? How can you consistently assure that your business continues to make good decisions? Thought provoking questions or do you already know the answer? As a Gazelles business coach I was provided with an advance copy of The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time by Verne Harnish and the editors of Fortune (due out Oct 2nd).
The book covers 20 great decisions, including Henry Ford’s decision to double employee wages, 3M’s decision to let engineers spend 15% of their time on their own projects and Apple’s good fortune in bringing a reluctant leader, Steve Jobs back.
Jim Collins (Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, and most recently Great by Choice author) does the Forward. It’s as helpful as any of the twenty stories about historic decision making companies.
Jim Collins points out decision-making is not about consensus. Just as Patrick Lencioni emphasizes in the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, the key to great decision making is conflict. The debate inside companies is real. A real violent, debate develops. Great decisions search for understanding.
Ultimately leadership makes the final decision, however Collins notes no major decision they ever studied was ever taken from a unanimous agreement.
Collins notes too that the greatest decisions weren’t “what?” but “who?” Ultimately they were people decisions.
Here’s an example of what he means. 1978, Jim Logan and his partner Mugs Stump become the first people to climb the Emperor Face of Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies. Nearly everyone who’s tried this since has either died or failed on the route. When Collins asked Logan, “Why were you able to do the Emperor Face?” Logan replied, “Because I made the single most important decision, I picked the right partner.”
Great decision making comes from a leadership team that can discuss the brutal facts, acknowledge each other for their opinions and knowledge and once a decision is made unite to make sure the decision is successful.
Years ago I was struggling with a very difficult decision. A good friend sent me an article that helped immensely. It simply indicated that most decisions are not clear black and white, right or wrong choices. Instead, the outcome of the decision rested more on what you do after you make your decision.Do you have a leadership team you trust to provide you with the unvarnished truth? Do you have a leadership team you can trust, argue, and be vulnerable? Most importantly do you have a leadership team that once the debate is over and decision is made will unify to insure the decision that’s been made will achieve success?