Good Decisions

The right decision made at the wrong time is a bad decision. The right time to make a decision is when you have as many facts as you can get to make it. Sometimes it will be all the facts, sometimes it will be enough facts and sometimes you’ll have to make a decision with less facts than you would want. 

But if you intend to lead then you have to make decisions period!

Once you have all the facts available, whether you believe it’s enough facts or not, you must make a decision. Deciding not to make a decision or deciding to delay a decision IS A DECISION and it is frequently the wrong decision. In fact, it’s worse than a wrong decision because a wrong decision can be fixed, a “non-decision” often cannot.

I see people all the time who have the facts required to make a decision and yet just can’t bring themselves to make it. They think and think, rethink and rethink, sleep on it and still don’t come to a decision. 

When they finally decide something it’s often too late to have the positive impact that a more timely decision would have had.

I believe one of the major causes of poor decision making is a lack of awareness of values, vision, and mission. 

When faced with a decision ask yourself how each possible decision will align with your values. Does the decision get you closer to your vision or not?  Does the choice you would make “fit” with your mission? 

Here’s the real challenge: when asked, most people can’t clearly state their values, either their personal values or the values of their organization. Most every organization has some sort of vision and or mission statement but they are no better than a slogan unless people know what they are and actually align themselves to them. A vision and mission statement should be used to guide every decision made in the organization. 

If something doesn’t get you closer to your vision then why on earth would you do it. If something is contrary to your values or the values of your organization then your choice is clear…and much easier.

When you know AND live your values every decision is easier. When you understand your mission, either in business or in life, then every decision becomes clear. 

It requires some serious reflection to truly understand your values. You will also find your values much easier to know than to live. But that’s okay, values can not only help to keep you on track, they can help you get back on track when you fall off the rails.

When you know, really know, what your true values are, when you understand your mission and have a vision for your life and business then you will find yourself not only making faster decisions, you’ll find yourself making much better decisions too.

9 thoughts on “Good Decisions

  1. Another insightful article, this time on a topic near and dear to my heart. I agree that when one’s vision, mission and values are clear, decisions do get easier. Not always easy, but easier.

    I think another reason some people delay in their decision making, or require unceasing information, is the fear of making a mistake.

    No one wants to make a wrong decision, but if you make one in alignment with your values based on the best information available at the time, then you need to tune out the Monday morning quarterbacks.

    Dave Ramsey, who makes decisions based on his mission and values, says ”I make a decision, and if it’s the wrong one, I make another one.” He keeps moving forward, while tuning out the critics.

    The critics of decisions are always around because people often fall prey to the Hindsight (Predictive Memory) Bias. Simply put, they evaluate past events in the light of current information… and how it turned out.

    Remember Pete Carrol after the Super Bowl with the Patriots? He got roundly criticized for throwing a pass on the goal line rather than running the ball. If it had turned out well, no one would have criticized a thing. If instead they ran the ball and there was a fumble, the critics would have criticized that decision, too.

    Make the best decision you can, based on the best information you have and in alignment with your vision, mission and values. If it doesn’t turn out as you hoped, learn what you can but keep moving forward… and make the next decision.

    1. Thanks Pat, that is such an insightful comment. Making a decision is the only way to move forward, it’s also the only way to can make “another” decision. If you never made one in the first place you can’t make another one to fix the first one.

      Mistakes are only made by people who try…never making a decision is just as disastrous as never trying.

      1. “Mistakes are only made by people who try…never making a decision is just as disastrous as never trying.”

        How true Steve. You have an excellent article on facing our fears and on non-decision decisions (not making a decision is still a decision):

        It does feel safer and more prudent to put off a decision or make no decision at all. But, as you point out, a poor decision outcome or a poor non-decision outcome are both equally poor.

        Keep the great content coming Steve!

  2. Steve I concur the decision needs to align with your values.

    In my youth I’d analyze things eight ways to Sunday. In the last 10 years or so I do a gut check regarding values.

    If I intuitively feel the decision matches my values I’ll go for it. In spite of the fact if I don’t have all the facts.

    I’m willing to green light the decision and make it up, figure out the how I’ll get it done, as I go along.

  3. Thank you so much for your continual honest post. Allows us to live and lead the right culture

    Sent from my iPhone


Leave a Reply