People ask me, “How do you make good decisions?”
I have learned that the issue is not about making good decisions. The issue is making your decisions good.
There is no such thing as a perfect decision. You know this even though you may not have given it much thought.
Think about it now. Following a decision, if everything in the world were to stand still and not change for however many days it took for that decision to be fully complete and all the results to be known, you could possibly say, “I have made a good decision.” However, we live in a dynamic world of change and motion, a place where nothing ever stays perfectly still. Think about how many unknown factors and people are likely to weigh in on your decision (including people who help you carry out your decision).
By the time you begin the execution of your well-thought-out plan, the original conditions have probably already changed significantly. Decision-making is most often a process of making corrections and adjustments to the original plan to make it successful. Implementation requires many modifications.
It is not so much a matter of following a certain process to be sure you are making a good decision; it is a matter of making your decision good.
Make Your Decisions Good!
Can you remember a single decision that worked out exactly as you first expected? I can’t!
I have read books and sat through seminars about decision-making. I vividly recall one presentation about how to make good decisions. All sorts of diagrams, featuring everything from complex matrix systems to simple two-column pro-and-con lists were presented. They were supposedly providing detail about how to weigh this side and that side of a decision-making equation, but there was no way I was going to be able to use that type of system. For me, all of the many different processes and systems designed to help a person make good decisions have something in common—I could never make a decision using any of them! These processes do not work for me and probably won’t work for you.
Even the best-laid plans have to be modified. Some decisions are point-blank and have immediate consequences. Most decisions are measured by delayed or long-term results. It is the small but creative adjustments made along the way that make the difference between success and failure.
General Eisenhower was probably thinking of all the adjustments to his plan that had been necessary to make good his decision to invade Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when he said:
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.
Here is what I have concluded about decision making: you have to take responsibility for making a decision good by constantly nurturing it, guiding it, and reevaluating the intermediate results to see whether it is taking you where you wanted to go. Circumstances are always changing; unforeseen obstacles, opportunities, and adversities just happen.
Don’t give up, don’t give in, and be flexible in the execution to fit the situation. It is up to you, and it is an active process.
Make Your Decisions Good!