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Decisions aren’t hard if you know what you want

November 1, 2013

There’s one sure fire way not to make any mistakes. And that’s not to do anything. It means no one can blame you when things go wrong, you never have to explain yourself to the powers that be, and you keep your slate clean. And seemingly your job safe. The key to this way of working is avoid making any decisions. You’ll be shocked to learn it drives me nuts.
Decision making is a binary process. On or Off. Yes or No. Stop or Go. Agree or Refuse. A decision is absolute. It doesn’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today. It takes the information currently available, evaluates it and gives people a course of action. (Keyword alert – action!). Without a decision there is just talk and discussion. But no action. Of course there may need to be research and discussion to come to a consensus, but eventually someone has to say “STOP! We are not philosophers here to debate the ins and outs of every moral angle. We are here to do a JOB. To get things DONE.” And a decision has to be taken. Are we going to make this happen or are we just going to talk some more about it? And I vote for action nearly every time. Because for me it is better to have a decision, even if ultimately it turns out to be the wrong one, than to have no decision at all. Having a decision allows things to happen. Not having a decision simply leaves things in limbo.

The decision may be not to proceed after all, but at least we wont waste any more hours weeks and months debating whether we should do it or not. Without the decision we are paralysed.

There comes a time to draw a line. To think, I have enough information here to make a valid decision. Yes, i could spend more weeks finding out more things, talking to more people, having more meetings, but will the amount of time and money I spend doing that really be cost effective? Will the decision really be SO much better than it would be if I just took it now and we ran with it? Or  will  the moment have passed by the time you are ready to make your decision and so the decision will have been made for you? Sometimes I think that’s why people prevaricate – in the hope that something will happen so that they don’t have to make the decision after all.

Decisions aren’t always irreversible.  Obviously they sometimes are, but often the decision can be amended if critical information subsequently comes to light. That’s not the same as re-visiting the decision every fucking time we meet to discuss a project. That drives me mental too. Look, make a decision and stick to it unless there really is overwhelming reason to reconsider.  I just want to MOVE ON and DELIVER.

If we don’t make decisions, we don’t make anything happen, we just allow things to happen to us as we huddle around the meeting room, paralysed by the fear of making the wrong decision.  I suggest that all these prevaricators, the wishy washy non-decision, paper-pushers just try making a decision. Practice it. Get the feel of it on their tongue and get a taste for it.

Just decide what you want to do. It’s not that hard. I think they’ll be surprised at how exhilarating it can be,  No more churning about in a muddle, drowning in more and more options with no idea where to go. Once they make a decision they will have opened up a clear line of sight to a goal. The end game. Where we all want to be. And it will feel good. And all their colleagues will be relieved that someone has made a decision at last, even if they don’t all agree with it.

And every time they make the wrong decision, and things go awry (and they will) they will learn form that and get better at weighing up the pros and cons and get better at making even better decisions.  And they might start to enjoy it.

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