Four Strategies for Power Decision Making

By Rando, Caterina | Business Credit, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Four Strategies for Power Decision Making

Rando, Caterina, Business Credit

Regardless of your profession, you make a multitude of decisions every day. From whether to hold the meeting in the morning or afternoon, to wear the black suit or the blue one, to hire one job candidate over another, the number of daily decisions is almost endless. No wonder so many people feel overwhelmed with decisions. Even the most confident decision maker occasionally suffers from a brief bout of decidophobia. That's when procrastination sets in.

When it's time to make those tough calls regarding your career, your business and your future, indecision as you thoughtfully review your options is normal. Unfortunately, some business people go beyond thoughtful contemplation and let their fears and insecurities take over, causing them to put off making any kind of decision at all. What they fail to realize, though, is that not making a decision or not taking action actually are passive decisions that typically have negative consequences.

Indecision is a silent enemy that steals many opportunities. You cannot decide what to say to an employee or co-worker who has lost a relative, so you say nothing, losing the opportunity to provide support. You put off deciding if you can afford to go to a conference, so you leave the information on your desk; the next time you read the flyer, you learn that the event has already passed. Your lack of decision-making caused you to miss an opportunity to meet with your colleagues and learn about your industry.

Proactive decision-making is vital to your career, because the sooner you make every decision, the more productive you'll be. You'll rid yourself of the distracting inner question of "what should I do?" and will be able to more fully concentrate on the tasks at hand.

The most adept decision makers use several different decision-making strategies on a daily basis. Master these four decision-making techniques today, so you can make the best decisions for your company and yourself.

1. Light-Speed Decision Making

Just as the name implies, "light speed decision making" means making quick decisions on the spot. This technique works best for smaller decisions, such as what time to conduct a meeting, rather than for major decisions like whether or not to lay off an entire department. The premise behind this strategy is that the quicker you make a decision on the spot, the more organized you'll be. According to Deborah Silverberg, a professional organizer, the clutter that sits on our desks is the result of indecision. People pick up the same memo or read the same e-mail over and over, never deciding what to do with it, which ultimately causes them to have stacks of paper on their desk and an overflowing inbox.

As you begin to make non-crucial decisions quickly, realize that practice makes perfect. To start, make five decisions quickly every day as an exercise. As the clutter on your desk dissipates and you begin to have more time each day, you can tackle more important decisions with this technique.

2. This or That

Sometimes people don't make decisions because they have so much to do and can't prioritize their tasks. So instead of making a decision to do a particular task, they procrastinate by taking a coffee break, organizing their desk, or working on another project that is not as important. During these instances, the "this or that" strategy is a great tool to employ to help you decide what to do next.

Step one: Write down everything you want to complete or make a decision about today.

Step two: Ask yourself what you want to do first. Whatever item you must absolutely complete today should be your top priority. List all the other items underneath.

Step three: Look at the first item on your list and ask if "this" (item one) is more urgent than "that" (item two). If so, it stays where it is. If not, it changes places with the second item. Continue this process with the second and third items, then the third and fourth items, and so on to the end of your list. …

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