Are you making decisions based on inspiration, luck or do you think them all though? If you stop and think about how you are making decisions, would you say your best solutions come in flashes of inspiration? Is deciding about an investment is a simple as gut feel, maybe your best member of staff was chosen in the first 2 minutes of their interview??

So you’re good at deciding and you have lots of evidence to back this up?

Dice as part of making decisions

How real is this? Have you ever thought about the risks? If there were some quick and simple decision making process techniques to reduce those risks that don’t take forever; would you use them?

Making decisions – good and bad decision

If you thought back over decisions  you’ve made and thought about the good and the bad ones I bet that key things would come down to:

  • Procrastination: many people just keep putting off the decision – fearful of the results, hoping it will go away, hoping that the decision will make itself – what’s your favourite excuse?
  • Involving others: This can really improve the quality of how you are making decisions, especially as other people are normally involved in implementation the decisions!.
  • A wide enough range of inputs – had you thought about xyz and abc as well you would have decided differently?
  • Considering the risks: There is a risk in everything that we do and often the answer is to proceed regardless of the risk. Considering the risks might make you change how you are making decisions, or more importantly might make you prepare for or reduce the risks.
  • Actually deciding:  oh no, I don’t want to really decide, shall I just keep thinking, perhaps this is “analysis paralysis”?


Is procrastination a bad thing? It certainly is if you’re avoiding the issue but allowing it to consume “mental bandwidth“. Doing nothing or postponing until a specified date is also a decision, but one that can release energy for current issues and although I’d not call that procrastination – some people would.

It’s normally better to make a decision and move forwards, learn and change than to procrastinate. One simple tip is to identify the reasons for procrastination and deal with them. Sometimes these are down to your values, which you might not even know!

Have you heard of Pareto’s law? Pareto’s law – 80:20 – 80% of the results come from 20% of the time invested, it’s normally better to make a decision and move forwards, learn and change. Are you a tosser, or would tossing help, click here to find out?

If you still can’t decide, for real reasons – clear your mind, make a decision to deal with it another day! Download our guide to decision making, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

Involving others in making decisions

Getting a broader input leads to a more robust decision making process, although it may take longer. There are two thoughts here, one regards the cost of delay v cost of being less robust and the other is about involving others more quickly.

How brief a discussion can you have with your team to discuss the issues? Make it clear that you’re not looking for them to decide, but would like their views on. You want to consider their views and will take them into account, even though you alone will make the final decision. Put a time limit on the discussion, if time really is an issue.

As we said earlier, involving others will also really help in the implementation. Are you actually worried about getting others involved in implementation, rather than decision making? If this is the case, make your decision, and focus on the implementation.

A wider range of inputs

Working with others will help you to see other views, and take them into account. This will improve the decision making (less risk, for an acceptable amount of additional time)

Have you tried thinking about strengths and weaknesses of your decision, being honest with yourself? Have you then thought about the opportunities and threats that the different options might pose? This simple technique can make you look afresh at it.

Risks, then onto actions

  1. Be clear what risks you are worried about, each of the following could suggest a different action:
    • reactions from customers
    • reactions from staff
    • reactions from other stakeholders
  2. Size of risks
  3. Understand potential issues from these perspectives and mitigate
  4. Be clear on what you are feeling uncomfortable with, expose it, mitigate this risk, or consider the cost of not doing it

Download our free guide to managing risks, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

These are some simple techniques that can help with making decisions; there are lots more that we often use to support clients. If you would like some more information on any of these please contact us on 01234 480 123.

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

Photo used under creative commons licence. For more information, click here.