Too often we get into the analysis paralysis trap. We think if I get a little bit more information I’ll make the perfect decision. Collect a little more data and the decision will become clear. Lots of activity is going on, people are working hard but nothing is really moving forward. It can feel like being the hamster on the wheel, running and running and yet getting nowhere.
So how do you get off this treadmill? Here are a few tips to help you get to the business of making decisions to move your organization forward.
- Focus. First know what it is that needs to be decided. Is it what project will support the strategic goals best? Is it how to allocate the limited resources of the department? Is it who to hire to round out the team? Whatever it is be clear on what is the question you need to answer.
- Get Information. Making any decision without information is risky, it’s like playing a slot machine – maybe you will win, probably you will lose your investment. So once you know what question you are answering you can determine what information you need to know to find the right answer. Now that you know what’s needed start to collect the information.
- Evaluate. When you get about 80% of the information you identified as needed take time to evaluate what you now know about the decision. Do you have enough data to make an educated decision? If so organize the data and get ready to move on.
- Identify Risks. Now that you have identified some of the possible decisions you need to explore the risks associated with each one. What is the risk of taking this action? What is the risk of not taking this action? Weigh the risks of moving forward against the risks of inaction.
- Decide. You now have information; you know what’s at risk so now you can decide and getting moving forward.
Rarely will you have the luxury of getting all of the information you would like to have before you must act, so get comfortable with weighing your options and evaluating risks. When you have 80% of the information and you look at it closely, along with the risks, you will see what the best course of action is.
At times you will fail. The key then is to learn from it and apply it to the next action. Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Waiting for perfection is the biggest failure of all – so decide already!
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