Successful people are great decision makers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they only make good decisions, but rather that they make bold, quick decisions, and are not afraid to make adjustments along the way, as needed.
David Ulrich, author and consultant, says that the focus is shifting from being right to being fast. Although you may think it is risky to make a quick, and possibly incorrect, decision, the reality is that timeliness is crucial in today’s environment. Timely thoughtful decisions can make a huge difference, both in your personal and professional life.
Which One Are You?
Ineffective Decision Maker
- Slow to decide
- Conservative, relies mostly on past experience
- Procrastinates, is always gathering information
- Is a perfectionist, with a strong need to be always right
- Misses deadlines
- Can’t make complex decisions, especially on issues never dealt with before
Effective Decision Maker
- Makes decisions in a timely manner, sometimes with incomplete information and under tight deadlines
- Relies both on past experience and intuition
- Gathers just the right amount of information to make an informed decision
Perfectionist or Procrastinator
Perfectionism is tough to deal with because most people see it as a strength, and they pride themselves on always being right. The reality is that, like any other trait, if overused, it becomes a weakness. The majority of people will make the right decision if they have unlimited time to gather pertinent information. The real challenge is who can make the quickest decision, with the least amount of data, and be right the most.
Even highly successful people make incorrect decisions sometimes, but the important thing is that they learn from those experiences and, in the process, improve their ability to make a tough call in the future.
Procrastinators, on the other hand, miss deadlines, do everything at the last minute and hold others up. Like Murphy’s Law says, it takes them 90% of the time to do 90% of the work, and another 90% of the time to finish the remaining 10%. You do the math! What procrastinators need to do is not only start working on the project early, instead of waiting until the last minute, but also break it down in smaller chunks that can be finished in relatively short time periods. Setting up checkpoints and mini deadlines along the way are also useful.
Some people are so conservative and cautious that they analyze and discuss things to death. They need to develop a more pragmatic approach to failure. That doesn’t mean that failing is always an option, but sometimes a small failure is a good learning opportunity and there are certainly benefits in learning from experience.
Selective Decision Making
Sometimes people are selective decision makers – they are timely with some people and not with others. This is often related to how they view others: easy to work with and supportive or difficult and unpleasant. It is also influenced by whether they think others’ requests are valid and the deadlines are “legitimate”, or they see them as what could be described as a “false sense of urgency”.
No matter where you are on the “ineffective” scale, the good news is that decision making is a skill that can be developed over time. With hundreds of books, courses, and personal coaches dedicated to helping people improve their decision making ability, the only thing that you need to decide is when to start.