Scratch your head, have a large gin and tonic, bet on a horse, cross the room, all of these are the result of making a decision and some of us are good and some bad at the exercise.
We have just had an exceptional keynote speaker presentation at my Vistage CEO Peer group delivered by "the SUMO guy", Paul McGee. Paul made the interesting point that more than 80% of the decisions we make are made on autopilot.
Think about driving on the motorway, arriving at the destination and suddenly realising that we can’t recall anything about the journey. We have all experienced this strange phenomenon from time to time which tends to support the 80% estimate.
What makes it more significant is an estimate by psychologists that we make on average the astonishing number of 35,000 decisions a day and more than 80% are made without our realising it.
In the last few months I have been experiencing (age related) lack of mobility and as a consequence I am consciously making decisions so as to reduce unnecessary walking about. This, I suppose, reduced the auto-pilot proportion by a significant amount.
However, the brain is a wondrous instrument and after a few days of thinking about it, I now find that many of the decisions I need to make have gone into auto-pilot node
In past consultancy days I used a useful model, The Decision Tree, with clients especially where they were grappling with a seemingly intractable problem.
The technique, using a very large sheet of paper or a white board, was to start with a box and a statement of the problem.
Beneath that box we drew a series of boxes each containing a potential solution and from each of these we drew an action flow chart that eventually arrived at a series of answers with costings, time issues, people issues and any other relevant details.
From there it was possible draw comparisons to enable the making of a very considered decision as to the most appropriate solution.
All well and good but as the model needs to be very detailed it takes a lot of time and effort so its use should be restricted to major issues.
On the other hand I had a member if my Vistage `CEO Peer group who had a Technical Director, very competent and technically accomplished, but who drove him to distraction.
The problem was that the Director, being a methodical engineer, refused to make a decision until he he considered that he had all the relevant information and as this took forever, or so it seemed, his decision making process was extended to say the least.
It often takes a brave soul to accept that enough background information is available in order to make a decision, especially when importance and urgency raise demanding heads.
The ability to cut through all the “stuff” that gets in the way of good and quick decision making is the hallmark of a capable leader. In addition there has to be an acceptance that we don’t always get it right and a decision can go awry.
However, in many cases it is better to bite the bullet and decide rather than constantly look for a better solution. Remember that even matters that seem important at the time, probably because someone else says that they are, won’t always be as significant in six month’s time.
Perhaps a good dose of JFDI would be the best answer.
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