Managers making difficult decisions are mostly taken for granted. Someone has to make a decision, and that’s a manager’s job, say most of us. “When you consider why some leaders are successful and some are not, the difference between a successful and unsuccessful leader is often directly linked to the choices and decisions they make”, says Peter Barron Stark, President of Peter Barron Stark Companies.
However, decision making becomes difficult when uncertainty is high, as it is now in the digital era. Indeed, technical and market uncertainty make decision-making difficult and, because information is often complex, understanding a problem is a challenge and often impossible before the problem is solved 1.
Making difficult decisions in times of uncertainty
Indeed, uncertainty is the difference between the amount of knowledge necessary to perform a task and the amount of knowledge already available within the company 2. Therefore, uncertainty refers to a lack of information regarding potential outcomes. So, it seems that knowledge is a critical element that is needed to make sound decisions.
Not so, says Malcolm Gladwell, (Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking): “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” Decisions that seem to be the most difficult are those that require a deeper level of thought.
Kescia D. Gray suggests in the Corporate Wellness Magazine the following five steps that will help you to make better decisions in times of uncertainty:
Step 1: Identify your goal. Identify the purpose of your decision by asking yourself what exactly is the problem that needs to be solved? And why does this problem need to be solved?
Step 2: Gather information for weighing your options. It will help you to better understand what needs to be done in solving the problem, and will also help to generate ideas for a possible solution.
Step 3: Consider the consequences. In this step, you will be asking yourself what is likely to be the results of your decision. How will it affect you now? And how will it affect your future?
Step 4: Make your decision. Now that you have identified your goal, gathered all necessary information, and weighed the consequences, it is time to make a choice and actually execute your final decision.
Step 5: Evaluate your decision. Once you have made your final decision and put it into action, it is necessary to evaluate the decision and the steps you have taken to ensure that it works.
All right, according to Psychology Today, in the real world, most of our choices only need to be good enough, not perfect. Nevertheless, to understand the decision that you must make, you need recent, reliable and relevant information. Also, try not to make the decision on your own. Therefore, by involving your team, the decision that you make may be accepted and understood more. As result of this, making difficult decisions may become easier.
Remember, you need a well researched and written Business Plan to get your business off to a good start!
1 Sweere, R.A. 2009. Improve Understanding and Decision-making in Standardization and Technology Licensing Projects by Applying Soft Systems Methodology and Scenario Thinking to Wicked Problems, Dissertation: Master of Science in Innovation Management, Technology University of Eindhoven.
2Liu, R. and Hart, S. 2011. Does experience matter? — A study of knowledge processes and uncertainty reduction in solution innovation, Industrial Marketing Management, 40:691-698.