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Stumped for innovation and fresh alternatives? Tired of the same old, same old?
Then maybe it's time you revisit how some of your decisions are made.
Leaders so immersed in the day-to-day grind can become complacent and immune to 'reflex decisions” without giving them much attention or thought. While these seemingly rote decisions are not intentionally careless, over time they can lead to missed opportunities for growth and improvement.
During the course of a week, how many routine 'standard decisions” do you or your team make? You probably make many more financial and personnel decisions than you realize.
If you don't believe me, try keeping a tally.
Now let me ask, how many of your routine decisions get your full and complete attention? Or put another way, how many decisions do you make because that's the way you've always done things?
Sometimes, it may behoove you to stop, and walk some of your decisions through a more formal model.
By doing so, you may make some interesting discoveries.
In 'Organizational Behavior,” authors Robert Kreitner and Angelo Kinicky outline a basic rational decision-making model:
1 Problem identification - What problems are you really trying to solve and why? What results are expected from a good decision?
2 Solution generation - What possible solutions are available?
3 Evaluate all alternatives, obstacles, opportunities, resources and expected results.
4 Select and execute - Come to a general consensus then implement your preferred solution.
5 Measure and evaluate the results of your solution.
I'm not suggesting that a formal process is always necessary. But if you take the time to go through this process you may find more relevant solutions for the current business environment and available resources.
Additionally this process may uncover some organizational and operational shortcomings.
Consider this, in a national survey the Business Performance Management Forum found the most frequent causes of poor decision-making includes:
' Poorly defined processes and practices
' Unclear company vision, mission and goals
' Unwillingness of leaders to take responsibility for decisions and outcomes
' Lack of reliable and timely information.
If any of these inhibitors exist, they should be addressed. This alone would be progress.
Now that we've identifies some causes for poor decisions, let's walk through the decision-making model again to consider the positive implications.
1 Identifying and defining the problem and expected outcomes will provide clarity as the problem relates to vision, mission and goals.
2 Determining a list of potential solutions can facilitate the creative process. The list of thoughts and ideas could drive hybrid options that were once overlooked.
Additionally these potential solutions will consider the current environment and circumstances which make these options timely and more closely aligned with mission, vision and goals.
3 By evaluating all the options, leaders will gain confidence that the decision is the best choice when compared to alternatives. As such, this confidence should encourage leaders to accept responsibility for the decision and its outcomes knowing the choice is the best option.
4 Through the evaluation step, the final decision should be better understood and supported by others. This should minimize resistance and help with the implementation/execution of the decision.
5 Measuring results and outcomes against expectations is critically important for this process to be meaningful and relevant. Without these measurements, leaders will be doomed to make the same mistakes in the future - or worse, become complacent with status quo.
So bring this model into your organization. You may find that thoughtful and purposeful decisions can refresh the way you conduct business, are forward thinking and get the desired results.
l Alex Taylor is associate director at the University of Iowa's Tippie School of Management, email@example.com. Twitter handle: @ataylorataylor