April 17, 2018
Managing a business is a series of decisions - which supporting products and services to buy, what talent to hire, where and how to grow, etc. The most overwhelming decisions are the decisions which will determine the course and destiny of your business. So, how does a savvy manager or owner make the right decisions?
Make Decisions Which Matter
1. See the Trees - and the Forest.
Managing a business is no easy task, and getting bogged down in the day-to-day details is all too easy. Strong is the temptation to just focus on today, but such limited vision will hurt your business in the long-term. As the Huffington Post1 points out, keep your "inner CEO" upfront. Do not neglect daily administration, but focus on the future.
2. Dedicate Time to Making Important Decisions.
Set aside time to make decisions - a time when you are not also answering emails or talking to clients on the phone. This sounds simple, but carving out dedicated thinking time is difficult.
Make this time a priority, and put in the effort required to create and protect it. Communicate with your team to make clear the "sanctity" of your thinking time. Perhaps go to another location if a different setting inspires you. A special time without distractions helps speed along the decision-making process.
Making Decisions Efficiently
1. Identify and Break Down Big Decisions.
Before devoting any time or mental energy to a decision, first determine if the decision is important. Will the decision have a real impact on your business? Will the potential decision change anything major for your clients or employees?
If so, then divide the decision into specific steps, as the Business Development Bank of Canada2 suggests. Keep in mind the end goal, but create a detailed plan to get there. Few things hinder decision-making more than feeling overwhelmed. Conquering individual steps is more efficient than trying to "slay the dragon" with one blow.
2. Become Informed.
"Managers seek out a range of information to clarify their options once they have identified an issue that requires a decision. Managers may seek to determine potential causes of a problem, the people and processes involved in the issue and any constraints placed on the decision-making process." -David Ingram3
To make an informed decision, you must know the parameters of the situation. Involve knowledgeable people and/or people who will be affected. Obtain relevant information from reliable sources. Research before making your decision to save yourself from the consequences of a poor decision. Make sure your understanding of everything is complete. What may appear to be correct or effective may not be at all.
3. Find Solutions.
Then, with research in hand, brainstorm solutions4. Do this yourself or involve trusted team members or experts. Allow for adequate time for idea generation. Making a decision with factual information and the ideas of others saves time in the long-run.
4. Eliminate Unfeasible Options.
A fruitful brainstorming session may generate several options. Before exploring all possible solutions in-depth, determine which options are most realistic. Keep what is feasible and do not waste time on what is not. Careful elimination of excess options now means less confusion and complication later.
5. Financial Considerations.
Any business decision almost always involves finances. Consider the financial angle of any solution - the potential gain, the cost, and how a potential budget will be used. Is the solution a help or a drain? If a decision involves expanding your business, consider creating a business plan for each possible solution. Project ahead as far as possible.
6. Plan and Act.
Define deadlines and assign duties now to avoid conflicts later. Make a clear and detailed plan, then carry the plan out. Developing a solution is pointless if procrastination gets in the way of action.
This final step is simple, but the most critical. Take the time to evaluate the results of your decision. Learn from good and undesirable results to make better decisions in the future.
Remember: You Are the Leader
You might consult experts when making important choices. Maybe you mine your team for advice and ideas. Regardless of who else you involve, never forget you are the one in charge. Other people or forces may pressure you, or you may be tempted to shift the burden to others, but the final responsibility rests with you. A self-assured, responsible leader makes solid decisions in a timely fashion. Trust your instincts and experiences, and lead.
Making Educated Decisions
Making efficient decisions moves your business forward, and professional knowledge helps you make the best decisions possible. Please contact us for further information, or with any questions.