Opinion

4 tips to make better professional decisions

Monty Majeed
17th Sep 2016
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As an entrepreneur, you will have to make many decisions regarding your startup and its operation. With advanced technology and the internet, you would think that it would become easier to get all the required information needed to make a decision, but the ugly truth that it hasn’t made the process of ‘decision-making’ per se any easier. Psychologist Barry Schwartz calls this the Paradox Of Choice. According to him, the increase in available choices may help us achieve more objective results, but the path towards it will be filled with anxiety, indecision, paralysis and dissatisfaction. Rather than driving us to make better choices, this only confuses us and makes us scared of making the wrong choice. As millennials, we are an indecisive lot. We overthink, and there is no bigger productivity killer than indecisiveness. To be a better leader, you need to be able to make firm decisions. Here are some tips to make quick and more effective decisions:

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Discuss, but be independent

It is good to seek advice before taking a decision, and it is definitely a sign of a good leader to involve one’s team in the decision-making process. But they do not wait if the process keeps getting delayed. Or, in today’s times of information overload, it is possible that one can get bogged down with too much information. Some may not even be relevant to the choice at hand. Don’t get carried away by such information or advice. Good leaders collect all the necessary information from experts, narrow it down to what will help them take that particular decision and arrive at the final verdict on their own.

Don’t try to solve a problem

Not all decisions you take can solve a problem you are facing. It might involve a series of decisions to finally arrive at a solution. So do not get fixated on solving a problem when you only have to take a decision and move on. A decision is a choice and decision-making is a tool with which you can solve problems. Let us explain this better. The problem, say, is finding funds your startup. This cannot be solved by taking one blanket decision. It can be broken down into smaller decisions like how to approach the funding process, whom to approach and so on. These smaller decisions taken together will solve the bigger problem. Understand that how well you manage big decisions depends on how efficiently you deal with smaller decisions.

Do not waste time and energy on insignificant decisions

On closer scrutiny, you may find that some smaller decisions can be entirely avoided. Successful people do not waste time on making petty decisions. For example, they do not break their head over things like what to wear. Barack Obama quite famously only wears either blue or gray suits, Steve Jobs always wore black and Mark Zuckerbergwears gray because they do not want to experience what psychologists call ‘decision fatigue’. They conserve their mental energy to spend it on other important decisions.

Have a backup plan

Always be prepared to face the reality that the decision you take may end up wrong. You should be able to accept that you were wrong and be ready with ways in which you can redeem yourself. Have a Plan B to deal with such situations and use the failure as a chance to learn from your mistakes. In case you do not have a solid backup plan, you can always go back to the many options that you initially toyed with and pick the next best available option.

Here are the steps that Harvard Business Review suggests you follow while taking a decision:

  • Write down the existing company goals to make sure that the decision you take aligns with it.
  • List three or four realistic alternatives. Having an expanded list of available choices can lead you to take a better decision.
  • List the most important information that you are missing to make this decision, so that you do not forget about it when you get buried by all the available information.
  • Write down how your decision will affect the business in the next one or two years.
  • Involve a small team and get more perspectives. This will help you identify any biases you may have overlooked.
  • Write down the team’s opinion on each of the choices and the decision you choose. Writing things down apparently increases commitment.
  • Follow up on the decision made in one or two months and revise it if necessary.

Always be open to the possibility of failing so that in case it does happen, the impact on the company and your team will be negligible. Remember that successful businesses are built on the many good and fearless decisions that entrepreneurs make. Be confident and committed to the decisions you make and follow it through till the end.

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