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Business strategy

How to make better business decisions

How to make better business decisions
Howard Woolf

By Howard Woolf

18 Jan 2021

Often in business, it is easy to feel that every decision must be made at lightning speed. This can apply to leaders of businesses of any size, where pressure to be seen as charismatic, decisive and quick may lead to poor decision making.

To help you make better business decisions we have provided our five top tips.

1. Break it up

Allot time to information gathering, discussion, making the decision, implementation, and review.

To make good business decisions, each step is important and should be treated as a distinct stage of the decision-making process. Consider different sources and quality/reliability of information, who to involve in discussions and when to review.

Another key element is to get some distance before a decision is made. Schedule a circuit-breaker in your meeting, take a walk to think it over, or sleep on it. Settling disruptive short-term emotions can have a huge effect on the quality of decision making.

2. Widen your options

Make sure that you have considered a range of options before coming to a decision.

Speak to a friend, business contact or trusted adviser (this could be a non-executive director if you have one) as they may bring a different perspective or have experience of a similar situation. Even just by Googling some keywords, you may find a solution which you had not considered previously.

Try considering your options in combination rather than as mutually exclusive alternatives. Instead of looking at choosing option one or option two, could the best aspects of both options be combined?

Alternatively, imagine that all the options currently under consideration are no longer possible – are any other courses of action available to you?

By adopting a flexible mindset or a clean sheet, you may be able to create new innovative solutions.

3. Check assumptions and over-confidence

We all make assumptions and almost everyone has fallen in love with their ideas at some point. It is important to recognise and challenge assumptions and bias when making decisions.

Consider what will work in the real world. Try analysing the wider environment in which your company operates (for example, consider the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal landscapes) or engage with key stakeholders to help to highlight any core assumptions or potential hurdles to be factored into the options you have under review.

Check your confidence by simply imagining a situation where the decision was completely wrong – what conditions would cause it to fail? What would be the consequences? What adjustments can you make to guard against this happening?

4. Remember your values

Keep the core values of your business in mind when reviewing options and making decisions.

Would the decision align with your values? What are your primary responsibilities, and what are the consequences? Who are the winners and losers?

Think about any promises you have already made and what decisions you can live with – it is easy to feel ‘railroaded’ in a high-pressure environment to make a fast and easy decision which may not be right for your business.

5. Review your processes

Schedule time to review the decision which has been made and consider whether any processes may be improved going forward.

You could consider whether enough time was allotted to the decision-making process, whether you had the right information at the right time, or whether any important assumptions were overlooked. With the benefit of hindsight, what would you do differently next time?

Every business is facing a challenging and uncertain environment. We hope that our tips provide some food for thought, helping you to make better business decisions.


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