Decision making is the new literacy

There’s a common belief that the world is changing faster than ever before. Look a little deeper and it turns out that’s always been the belief. What we have more of today is options. Alternative ways to get something done. That means we all have to make more decisions every day.

If decision making is the literacy of the 21st century, how are you equipping your team to excel?

Whether it’s the nuances of a fast food order, how best to enjoy an evening’s entertainment, or solving a problem at work, we have a plethora of options. At first glance, that's a great privilege, but it places a hidden strain on all of us to pick one, pick quickly and pick right. Odds are we’ll choose the option that the best marketers have planted in our minds as the safe bet.

That means we’re most likely to overlook the best answer. Or we might end up paralyzed by the fear of moving in a particular direction, scared of committing to second best.

Turns out there are simple techniques for decision making to help us avert this unhappy outcome. But decision making is not part of many school curricula I know of, and receives scant attention in corporate training programs.

As a leader, you can equip your team to make good decisions by:

  • Establishing the clearest possible goals.

  • Making the relevant information readily available to inform decisions.

  • Sharing trust by placing responsibility alongside authority.

  • Creating an environment that leverages mistakes (rather than punishes them).

  • Providing ample opportunity to learn through practice — monthly decision habits and coaching around new challenges.

Decision Support

When were you last disappointed by an important decision from someone on your team?

Go back and ask yourself what more you could have done to:

  1. Clarify the decision-maker’s objectives.

  2. Ensure they had access to the necessary information to make the decision.

  3. Reinforce your support for their decision.

  4. Help them learn to avoid a repeat.

  5. Provide practice, guidance and coaching to avoid a sink or swim situation.

Now compare that to the last time you were delighted by an important decision. What did YOU do differently?

Send me your honest answers and we can discuss options—I promise the list will be short. Here are some related articles …

How average trumps excellent

Creating experts

Let Information Flow

The Decision Action Loop