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Creating the right environment, to make the right decisions, at the right time

As individuals we are making decisions all the time so it should be second nature right?

If only it was that simple for organisations. Many of us have had to make some really tough decisions over that past year – redundancies, mergers, cuts, etc and I am sure that some of the decisions made under pressure and quite often without all the relevant data or input. Some of these decisions become a bit of a gamble or risk. So what can we do to rationalise the process. Rather than list the do’s and don’ts of decision making and problem solving (lots of material out there, I thought it would be useful to reflect on a conversation I had with a colleague last week (Huda Amin, Women into Business) during one of our Action Learning sessions.

Decision making draws on various professions, including psychology,  sociology, anthropology,  political  science and economics and can affect behaviours at and individual, group or organisational level. It also is in my mind very much to do with having the right internal structure and communication.

Getting the right people involved in the decision – this is essential to ensure that all perspectives are included, to allow internal expertise to be utilised and to speed up the decision making process. It is sometimes advisable to set up steering committees (time limited of course) to allow external experts to be pulled in – time to draw on those favours.

Using decision making tools – There are lots of simple and effective decision making tools that should be used in teams or groups. These not only help look at the decision from various angles but also help individuals think out side the box. A couple of my favourites are Force Field Analysis and the 6 Thinking Hats.

Structure is also related to communication. Who and how do you communicate to? Is there an existing hierarchy or protocol? Does it work? Quite often internal tensions and doubts begin to emerge when people feel that decisions are been made without their knowledge. The key word here is knowledge. It is not always the case that everyone wants to be involved at every stage but just want the courtesy of been informed of what the issue is, why it has arisen and how they intend to deal with it.

Yes, decisions sometimes need to be made quickly and not every ‘leader’ has the luxury to consult to the level they would like to – fair enough  - this is sometimes the reality – However, what  often fails to happen is the essential communication before AND after the decision. Get this right and your decision making will be somewhat easier.

Tebussum Rashid

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