The speed at which information travels becomes faster and faster every day. With the increase in abundance and the rate at which information travels, decision-makers are left facing an onslaught of pressure against unexpected and uncontrollable forces. How, then, can you ensure you make the right decisions time and time again?
The answer is you can’t. Fortunately, however, you can mitigate the potential for disastrous decisions by ensuring you pass and receive high-quality information. Here are six guidelines to make sure you and your team get the information needed to make the right decisions:
1. Assume ignorance.
At the risk of sounding insensitive or condescending, how and what you say should be communicated at a very basic level (think fifth grade). The reason being that nobody cares how smart you are until they know how much you care.
Related: Stop Reacting and Start Responding
Despite how good it feels to rattle off random bar trivia, the only agenda it serves is your own. To get to the crux of any decision, assume that nobody has any idea what you're talking about, so take the time to clearly and explicitly walk through instructions with people in such a way that mitigates ambiguity. A good rule of thumb to follow is this: over-communicate or under-deliver.
2. Vet the source.
The source of information is just as important as the information itself. In the SEAL Teams what garnered our success on the battlefield was our ability to shoot, move and communicate as a team amidst adversity. However, back in the states, we were our own worst enemy when it came to spreading rumors and groupthink.
Every organization deals with internal biases of its members, muddied up facts or halfway conversations. When a major decision crosses your path, don’t just go off the last opinion of the group.
3. Get the facts.
When major decisions are on the table, it doesn’t hurt to know as many facts as possible. Of course, waiting too long can lead to analysis paralysis that hinders decision-making. There’s a fine balance between deliberate and hasty decisions, often delineated by the urgency of the matter that the decision is supposed to resolve.
To avoid the pitfalls of hesitancy ...
4. Use 3-D.
Yes, 3-D glasses can actually help you make better decisions. Just kidding. By 3-D I’m referring to the drop dead date that a decision must be made -- it’s the last possible point in time to decide, as pushing past the drop dead date would be detrimental to the initiative or participants at hand.
5. Separate yourself.
While it has been said that emotionally-based decisions are ineffective, research shows that without emotion, decisions are less likely. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasia studied people who suffered from damage in the brain where emotions are created and discovered that the one commonality among subjects who couldn’t feel emotion was their inability to make a decision. Simple decisions for them, such as what to eat, become incredibly complex -- impossible, actually.
To remedy the inherent emotional bias in making a decision, consider instead the level of priority that the decision serves. In other words, does the decision being made serve the betterment of the organization, the team or you?
Decision-making is often looked at with reluctance because with the ability to decide is the accountability to stand behind your decisions. While the outcome of some decisions are certainly more impactful than others, doing everything you can to learn from them -- right or wrong -- will help build context for future decision-making. The real lessons learned come from experience, which only comes from decisive action.