Jan 26, 2016

    Making the right decision takes practice

    BEING able to decide and lead others by your decisions is not just an innate ability that leaders possess.

    It is a skill that can be learnt, practised and honed.

    The science to making a call is to sift through information, analyse scenarios, weigh the pros and cons of a matter and, finally, come to a conclusion - within a timeframe.

    Here are four things you can do to improve your decision-making skills:


    Ask "W" questions to clarify the decision that is needed.

    These include: Why does a decision have to be made and what is the impact of a non-decision? State who will be affected by the commitment - or the lack or delay of it. Also, what are the desired outcomes of arriving at a conclusion?

    Pen down your thoughts in simple, clear language - seeing them on paper will help you anchor your ideas.

    Develop a set of decision criteria to judge the quality of each solution, using these to assess the suitability of the possible lines of action. Include a timeline in the process as well.


    You will need sufficient data to make an informed decision.

    So, access files and records or dig into case studies and best practices to widen your perspective. However, do not ferret out too many details - that will lead to information overload or time wastage.

    For instance, if a conclusion is needed on refreshing a website, assessing dozens and dozens of sites will lead to "information clutter".

    Instead, scour the top few portals in your business, think through the key areas you need to refresh and bear in mind a possible direction to take.


    Take the example of a website revamp further: What is the aim of the exercise? Bearing this in mind, scrutinise the accuracy of information that you have gathered in your legwork.

    Try to look at the information from a fresh perspective.

    Talk to stakeholders as they may be able to contribute salient points. Distil these views and facts, and come up with a few possible lines of action.

    For instance, what is the key content needed and what of the look-and-feel of the site?

    Also, which bells and whistles are must-haves to refresh your brand and which can be dispensed with?


    List the pros and cons of each solution in a table.

    For instance, what are the costs and benefits of implementing each idea? Indicate the obstacles to each option and how they can be managed.

    Give yourself an "incubation period" to think things through. Sometimes, putting your ideas on a mental back burner to revisit them later may turn up fresh insights.

    Finally, lay out your plans - summarising the information and analyses - and present them to your supervisor and colleagues for brainstorming, if necessary. The option that is consistently in the best interest of the organisation, and is in line with its goals and objectives, is the step in the right direction.

    Put the final decision made from the group consensus into an action plan with a timeline.

    After an initial period, test the commitments you have made. Did they do what they were supposed to do?

    If not, tweak as necessary. Revisit the decisions, making the needed adjustments.

    Going through a decision-making process can be an uphill task. However, it can also be satisfying when your lines of action, and their impact, prove to be right for you and your organisation.

    This article was contributed by career consultancy Right Management and recruitment company ManpowerGroup Singapore.