Leadership Soapbox – Leadership Decision Making Part 2

What to think about first when making a decision


Hi everyone my name’s Neil Poynter and welcome to this week’s episode of, The Leadership Soapbox. And today, we’re following on from last week’s Stop Think Act part one, and this is Stop Think Act part two.

So we’re into decision-making. Now you’re going to have to excuse me. I get a bit passionate about this particular one because it’s something very close to my heart.

So we’re going in now to the first part of the think.

Now the Think part of Stop Think Act breaks into two parts.

The second part is where we look at our options, that will solve or possibly solve our problem or make our decision work, and then we make our decision.

But before we can do that, before we can do that we have to make sure that we understand, the full ramifications of everything that’s going on here.

Now, understanding, if you look at it in the dictionary if you break down what it means, is about insight into the problem and then the foresight about what it means. It’s not just, Oh yeah I understand. So I’m going to break understanding down for you. I’m going to break this into three parts, which is three Cs. Hey, I had to make an acronym, didn’t I?

So the first one is context.

Do I understand why this is happening? What’s the background? Who’s asked for it? Why is it important? What’s the outcome going to affect? What’s the real deep background and situation for perhaps both sides here? If it’s a client or, why are we as an organisation trying to do this? where does it fit? Where does it fit in the strategy? How does it help the organisation move forward? I have to have that situational understanding as to why this is happening. Why am I doing this? Why am I making this decision? Is it important? Does it, actually should I be making the decision? Is it actually important enough?

But we have to understand the context. So that’s part one.

Part two: Do I have clarity, as to the actual decision I’m making?

Right, here’s a test. Can you write it down? Can you write down in a couple of short sentences, what the decision is that you are making? Where are we going on holiday next year? Okay, cool. What about when, what about what type of holiday? Okay. So we might need a bit more granularity in it but a couple of sentences, what is the decision you are making?

Now, another test: when you read it, does it still make sense? The reason I say this, is that I was doing some research into decision-making and how people do it, a few years ago now. And what I found was that people would come to me with a decision, and I’d write the decision as they said it up on a flip chart. The number of people who as soon as I’d done that looked at it and went, “Oh, no, that’s not right. That’s not actually it.” I mean a significant percentage. Huh! So write it down. Look at it and go, does that still make sense? Does that look like, sound like, feel like the actual decision that I need to be making right now. If you’re not sure, test it with your boss or whoever else is around. But we need to make sure that we’re answering the exam question. You remember that from school? Make sure you answer the question. Well have we got the question right?

Okay, so that’s part two: clarity.

Part three, third C: Criteria.

Now this in itself breaks into two. What are the criteria that are going to help you, make your decision? So for instance, even if we were picking next year’s holiday if of course we can all go on holiday next year cost may come into it. Alright. What’s your cost criteria? Do you have a bracket? Okay, There’s a criteria within which when we come to selecting our options, clearly an option has got to sit inside.

Okay, so we might have the decision-making criteria. Now the other set of criteria that might come in here, are how the success of your decision is going to be judged. Do you know who is going to judge the success and how they’re going to look at it? Is it speed? Is it cost? Is it quality? What is it? Project managers will be familiar with that cost quality time triangle, the eternal triangle. What does the client want? How are you going to be judged? How is your decision-making going to be judged, at the end of this and by who? Who are your stakeholders in this decision? We need to be clear on that now.

So, first of all, context make sure we understand the background.

Two, clarity of the decision. Do we really understand the decision that we’ve been asked to make here? Can we write it down?

Three, what are your criteria? Now, here’s a trick. If you are in the fast decision-making game, the only way you can make fast decisions, is by maintaining your understanding on an ongoing basis.

Now, I can talk to people about that if that’s of more interest but I don’t want to drag this video out but just think about it, you might need to have a plan, for how you gather information on an ongoing basis, in order that you can continually make rapid decisions. Because this is the part that if we do it properly occupies time. So, there we go. There’s our understanding, context, clarity, criteria.

Okay. Been really interested to hear what your thoughts are on that, send me an email up here. leave me a comment down below, few it’s LinkedIn, send me a message or something there but I’d be really interested and how does this impact you?

Because this is, I think, one of the fundamentals in making really good decisions. Do we understand the decision and really understand the decision that we’re actually making?

Okay, thanks very much everybody, looking forward to seeing you next week, when we’ll get into those options, how do we pick them and how we going to make that final decision? Great.

See you soon. Bye bye.

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