If you’re a business founder, a CEO or in any position of authority within a company from the C Suite down to the leader of the smallest team, the main skill you exercise is decision making. It’s the ultimate transferable skill, and it’s the thing that all managers have in common whether they’re just starting out or running multinational companies.
A good decision making process is the hallmark of success in the world business, and the best decision making is streamlined: clear, quick and decisive, avoiding getting bogged in over analysis and losing opportunities, without losing a consideration from the risks and the avoidance of bad outcomes.
The key is injecting a stream of data into your decision making wherever possible. ‘Going with your gut’ might work for you if you’ve got lots of experience to work with, but it’s going to let you down in the end, and potentially disastrously. And of course, if you don’t have experience to fuel your intuitive leaps, you’re simply cruising overconfidently into situations that are beyond you.
Gathering data from observing your customers habits instore and online, brand tracker surveys to measure how your brand responds to the decisions, and measuring your teams performance internally gives the insight you need to streamline your decision making process and move quickly without sacrificing accuracy.
Identify the problem, or if not problem then issue. Maybe you’re facing a budget overrun, a shortfall in revenue, or have a product launch coming up and want to maximise your gains from it. Whatever issue you’re planning a response to, it helps to have a clear statement of the problem.
Knowing you’re not taking as much money as this time last year is a start, but you need to define the issue even more clearly. Are you being undercut by competitors? Have the overall economic conditions changed?
Predict. This is where your data comes in. Use your data to model how your solutions will work – will pushing throw a product help or, based on how much you know your teams can do, will it leave everyone overstretched and open up weaknesses elsewhere. If you plan a sale, how have other sales at this time of year performed? If they’ve not delivered a bump to profits when times are good, can you rely on them to do so in bad times?
Measure results. Don’t just decide on your solution and implement it. Make sure you have predictors in place to show success and failure and a plan to measure it and see how it’s performing. If your solution isn’t showing the results you need, go back to the drawing board.
Learning these phases and using data gathering to move through them quickly is the key to a fast and successful decision making process.