Leadership Soapbox – Leadership Decision Making part 3

How to have multiple options to choose from when making decisions


So, hi, everyone. My name’s Neil Poynter, and welcome to this week’s episode of The Leadership Soapbox. It’s March already, how did that happen?

Okay, here we go. So we’re in Stop, Think, Act still, up here, and we’re onto episode three and the second part of the think.

So, very quick reprise, stop, make sure we’re engaged, consciously engaged, system two thinking. And how long have I got to make this decision?

Part one of the think, context, clarity, criteria. Context, do I understand the situation? Clarity, can I write down what the decision is that I’m actually having to make and does it make sense to me? And the criteria, what are the criteria that are going to impact this decision and going to make it a good one?

Okay, so now let’s get into think part two. This is where, on the basis of my understanding, I’m now going to collect options for my decision. So if I’m going on holiday, where did we want to go? Roughly, how much do we want to spend? What sort of activities do we want?

We’ve got our criteria and we understand the decision we’re making. Right, so how do we collect these options?

First of all, do you remember, back in the stop video, I mentioned your intuitive thought about how to do it or what we should do? Right, there’s your first option that you pull in, okay? We’ve got an option there, let’s use it. Great.

Option two, the way we always do it. Now, if this is a business decision, is this something that we do as standard? Well, here’s our opportunity to challenge it. Is it still our best option? Is it the way we want to do it? Or is there something better we can do? But let’s pull it in, option two.

Also, now is the time to get creative. Where’s that wacky idea? Where’s that new way? Where’s that idea we had a few months ago about doing things differently? Okay, let’s pull that in here. So that gives us perhaps another option.

What we’d want to avoid is only having one or two options. I would like to have three or four options about the way I can go about doing this.

Another thing that we can do here, get the team involved. If there’s going to be a team of people who are going to deliver this, or who it’s going to impact, let’s get them involved now.

Let’s speak to perhaps wider stakeholders. What’s going to work for them? So we need to get options. And also, this is with the team, with the stakeholders, this is an opportunity to generate buy-in. Especially if they’re inside our organisation, it gives them skin in the game. They’re part of the decision-making process. They are part of coming up with the idea and the plan. Okay? So very important.

Now, the final point about our options is that they need to meet our criteria. So those criteria that we set in part two, do our options match those criteria?

Now, the one exception I’ll say here is if you’ve got one that might absolutely blow the rest of the field away as an option, but there’s one area that it’s out of bounds on. It might cost a little bit more, or it might be a little bit slower, or something. So all your options should match your criteria. But perhaps you’ve got an outlier to bring in to challenge things.

If we’re talking project management, this is about cost, quality, and time. You know, what’s our priority? Do these options match the cost quality and time constraints?

Now, the one thing that I’m going to warn about right now is that if we go into lots of consultation and a really big search, this is going to take time. Remember, our decision must be timely. I’d rather have an 80% right solution on time than one that’s way too late, or too late and we lose the opportunity, or it’s gone, okay?

So we need to have that, remember, from part one, how long have we got to make this decision? And your process has to match that.

So we’ve got our options. Great. Now we have to evaluate them. Now, up until now in this, we can be quite creative. So we’ve gone from creativity, now we need to get into objectivity. We need to be quite objective about this. We need to analyse and evaluate our options against our criteria. Is it in cost? Does it have all the things we need?

Now, there’s various ways of doing this. We can have a strengths versus weaknesses table, pluses versus minuses, or we can construct a table where we score each option against each criteria, or out of 10, and we give them a score. Whatever it is, we need some method of evaluating the options, and it needs to be as objective as we possibly can be. Again, get the team involved at this stage. Can we get the team helping rate the options?

Finally, we’ve got to make the decision, haven’t we? Yeah, okay, so we’ve got the one that’s come top of our evaluation. Does it feel right though? Just an emotional warning. If you’re getting a gut feel that it’s not the right one, why? What have we missed? Is there some piece of information in this that is missing? Have we missed a criteria? Now’s the time to check. Is that decision, is that final option, the one that sort of come top, is it our best option? Is it the one that’s going to deliver for us?

And then finally, we’ve got to make that decision, or recommendation to whoever it is that we’re going to do.

Now, final point, this is not the end of it, because we’ve now got to act. I’m going to do that in part four, but this is far from over, because if this is an important decision, we now have to act on it. We now have to do something.

We now have to take it through and deliver on it in whatever way is important. So that’s part four and that’ll be next week. So have you got something you can apply this to now?

It would be great to hear from you, so comments below, either on LinkedIn, or if this is on YouTube, or wherever you’re seeing it. I’d really like to hear how you can apply this and what you think and about how you do things in your decision-making.

So that’s it from me for part three. I’ll see you in part four next week. And thanks very much for listening.

More from Stop, Think, Act the decision-making series

Decision making part 1 – Stop

Decision making part 2 – Think part 1

Decision making part 3 – Think part 2

Decision making part 4 – Act