Effective Decision Making Process: A Blueprint for Better Decisions

Effective Decision Making Process: A Blueprint for Better Decisions
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Decision Making Process Research
Research of over one thousand major business decisions over five years by behavioral economists Dan Lovallo and Olivier Sibony looked at how decisions were made (An Effective Decision Making Process) and the results (Desirable Decision Making Outcomes). The decisions were not trivial; they focused on high stakes decisions such as new product launches, company restructurings, and market expansions.

They found that while a thorough current state analysis is important, the decision making process itself was six times more important to successful decision making outcomes.  Why such an impact?  Because, similar to thoughtfully designed project post mortems, they found that an unbiased and effective decision making process (if transparently followed) highlights and mitigates the most common team decision making mistakes.

4 Steps to a More Effective Decision Making Process
An effective decision making process defines clear steps for evaluating options, gathers relevant information, and assesses potential risks. An agreed upon decision making process that is inclusive, unbiased, and structured provides individuals and teams with a decision-making blueprint that increases trust, transparency, and results.

  1. Build a Foundation of Trust
    We know from organizational culture assessment data that team members do not feel safe expressing their opinions and having a healthy enough debate to come make effective decisions without a solid foundation of trust and psychological team safety. Why? Because diverse perspectives and constructive debates are required to thoughtfully and fully flush out the pros and cons required to make well-rounded decisions.

    Do you have enough organizational health to set the stage for high stakes decisions?

  2. Create Decision Making Goal, Role, and Process Clarity
    A crucial aspect of effective decision making is ensuring that each team member understands and embraces their decision making role vis-à-vis the desired outcomes. If anyone is unclear about the decision to be made, the process being followed to make the decision, the decision making criteria, or how decision making success will be measured, you need to stop, regroup, and get on the same page before moving forward.

    Are you following decision making training best practices to align the decision making team and their key stakeholders?

  3. Foster a Culture of Accountability
    High performance cultures are comprised of teams that take full ownership of their decisions. Weak decision making cultures play workplace politics, do not share information, and have unclear or unfair success metrics.  Encourage decision making teams to actively involve key stakeholders in the decision making process and to view mistakes as opportunities for growth rather than failures.

    Do you have enough cultural accountability to be decisive?

  4. Actively Incorporate Diverse Perspectives
    When people feel like they have active input into decisions, they are more likely to take pride in the decision and feel more engaged with the company. Decision making and innovation thrive when each team member can bring unique perspectives to the table. Encourage an inclusive environment where different viewpoints are not only welcomed but actively sought out.

    Do your decision making processes minimize group think enough to make more comprehensive and innovative decisions?

The Bottom Line
Elevating decision making capabilities requires a structured decision making process reinforced by trust, healthy debate, and a culture of accountability. Clearly define goals and roles, incorporate diverse perspectives, and prioritize effective communication.  Then measure how well you are agreeing on:

  • The problem you are trying to solve
  • What success looks like
  • The relevant data you need to gather to make an effective decision that you all feel good about
  • Who needs to be involved in the decision making process
  • How you will evaluate alternatives against your success criteria
  • How the decision will be made and implemented
  • The communicate plan to those who will be affected

To learn more about making better decisions at work, download Top 5 Decision-Making Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

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