Like the skiers in the photograph, leaders are often faced with decisions that are complex and where making the wrong decision could have serious consequences. In such situations, decision makers can find themselves at either end of the decision making spectrum – analysis paralysis on the one end or falsely simplifying the ‘landscape’ or context to make the decision easier on the other. In the case of our back-country skier – either method could have life threatening results. In business it may not be your life that is at stake, but it could cost the ‘life’ of your project, your credibility or even your business as a whole.
Struggling with decisions in complex or ambiguous situations doesn’t mean you’re a poor decision maker, it likely has its root in other factors. A big contributor is the myth that; “While there may be more than one way to do it, there is only one BEST way to do it”. If you find yourself in agreement with the ‘only one BEST way’ thinking, you are probably missing many great decision opportunities.
There are very few situations where that thinking is true – even fewer when people are part of the equation. Any time a decision has impact on people it is more likely to have an optimal range of BEST decisions to choose from. The ‘only one BEST way’ thinking is borrowed from a mechanical mindset. A context in which it is often true, but not so in most leadership decisions, as very few leadership decisions are purely mechanical.
Try it out for yourself. Think of a complex or ambiguous situation where you believed there was only one BEST decision. Maybe you’re in one right now? How did that impact your decision making? Many great leaders find their decision making compromised because they are holding tightly to the belief that there is only one right answer, only one best way to proceed. It is true that there are right and wrong decisions, good and bad decisions. Think of your scenario. Imagine it on a continuum with the analysis-paralysis at the one end and ‘quick-n-dirty’ decision at the other end. Where on that continuum do you see the optimal decision making range. Think of 5 to 8 decision options you could make from there. Assess them at a gut level. Which are your top 3? What more information do you need before you act on them (using the same continuum scale)? Choose and act.
Take the time to try it out and we’d like to hear how it changes things for you and for the outcome as a result.