They say artificial intelligence is coming but it can never replace some of our smarts. Key amongst them is that of process-driven decision making, the art of taking operational issues, applying logic, and achieving workable solutions. You might use a flash of intuition and you’ll definitely apply judgement, but the whole has to be grounded in rock solid structured thinking.
As a leader you’ve got to be across decision-making of every nature. Whether it’s choosing between two compelling options, or assessing a range of possibilities and carefully determining which is best; picking through the day-to-day choices and knowing when to make a quick choice and move on, or when to research more deeply.
Some decisions require elevated wisdom and experience, they’re game changers in our business that will impact our people. They require a calm, collected and concentrated mind, which invests carefully in considering the risk for all involved. In the day-to-day, they may be more random and sudden with unknown variables, quick decisions we make and then adapt on the go.
Smarts and emotional intelligence are required at pretty much every turn.
The Australian Government’s Department of Defence is a place where, not to put it lightly, the decisions made and the minds making them must obviously be of the highest caliber. Their 2015 brief, Good Decision-Making in Defence: a guide for decision-makers and those who brief them is, unsurprisingly, a seminal document when it comes to strategies for decisions making. It outlines five governing principles.
How well could these be adapted into your business?
BE FLEXIBLE AND CREATIVE
‘One size fits all’ is not an approach that has a place in smart decision making. Smart decisions are made with flexibility and an openness to the different processes and discussions which might bring about a solution which is truly unique and creative.
Future challenges are not necessarily answered in the same way as past ones – so it makes no sense to rely on the same formulas. Establish a pattern which looks for new solutions, embraces flexibility and new thinking, and avoids replicating past mistakes.
MANAGE RISK, DON’T JUST AVOID IT
It is not possible to avoid risk completely. So think about how risks might be mitigated: what controls are needed, what counter measures can be taken. Implement those, and you manage and mitigate. To avoid risk entirely is impossible and it suffocates creativity. Invest your efforts in finding the right balance.
TIME AND RESOURCES IN PROPORTION
Decision makers are the people with the most demands on their time, and the most complex demands on their resources. And so true consideration for the decisions they make is necessarily a weightier process.
As a rule, the more serious the possible consequences of a leadership decision - career consequences, financial consequences - the more time and resources should be invested. Consider the relevant information thoroughly and the determine the true criteria upon which the decision should be made. Decisions must occasionally be defended. Time and resources are the tools that enable you reach ones you can stand by – as well as good judgement and common sense.
THE BALANCE OF CERTAINTY - MAKE DECISIONS IN REASONABLE TIME
Time, and resources, cannot assure us of the right decision on every occasion. And decision-makers should not postpone making a decision just because there are unknown facts or further possibilities to be explored.
Even in cases where the circumstances do not require urgency, delays can be detrimental and stressful to those waiting for a decision. Lengthy delays may also cause changes of circumstance which affect the matters under decision.
A time-frame is important. Exercise judgement to get the balance right, taking accuracy and timeliness both into account.
BALANCE INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANISATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
On occasion, the interests of the individual and those of the organisation may differ. For example, an individual may wish to delay a decision to seek further advice, while the leadership may want to resolve the issue quickly to resume optimal workplace function.
In these cases, the decision-maker must assess and balance the competing interests as part of their process. Professional judgement must be applied once again – in making the decision and safe-guarding the final outcome.
Make decisions you can stand by and which your teams can back – and let the governing principles you model at leadership level filter down through your business. That’s what makes good business great.