Make it happen

A Checklist for Making Faster, Better Decisions

Call To Action — Jan 2018

Managers make about three billion decisions each year, and almost all of them can be made better.

Decisions are the most powerful tool managers have for getting things done.

But although there’s great potential for using best practices to improve decision making, many organizations are not doing it. To close the gap between potential and practice, it’s important to know why it’s there at all.

One reason is history. Decision making in business has long been more art than science. In part, that is because most managers had relatively little access to accurate information until recently.

That leads to the next reason: psychology. The reality is that we are predictably irrational. Behavioural economists have uncovered a range of mental shortcuts and cognitive biases that distort our perceptions and hide better choices from us. Most business decisions are collaborative, which mean groupthink and consensus work to compound our individual biases.

A final reason is technology. Enterprise software has automated many managerial tasks over the past 40 years. That shift has formed a foundation for better decision making, but it leaves the job unfinished.

What can be done?

We found that the most successful decision-making approach boils down to a simple checklist.

  • Write down five pre-existing company goals or priorities that will be impacted by the decision.
  • Write down at least three, but ideally four or more, realistic alternatives.
  • Write down the most important information you are missing.
  • Write down the impact your decision will have one year in the future.
  • Involve a team of at least two but no more than six stakeholders.
  • Write down what was decided, as well as why and how much the team supports the decision.
  • Schedule a decision follow-up in one to two months.

We need a new, scalable approach to managing decision performance. It must replace the historical theory of rational choice. It must acknowledge that our psychology often leads us astray. And it must use simple, friendly tools like this one, designed to have an outsize impact on how managers and teams make decisions.

Read the full article, here.