ue bot icon

Daily Leadership Thought #101 – 8 Steps To Avoid Impulsive Decision Making

March 4, 2011

Free Thoughtful black businesswoman working in park Stock Photo

I meet many people in my line of work who pride themselves on their “gut level decision making.”  Rather than striving to make the most informed decision possible, they trust their own experience and judgment to drive the organization forward.  In my experience, they need to be careful that they don’t end up driving the business off a cliff or into a dead end.  I certainly respect personal experience and there are some people who have a knack for making good “seat of the pants” decisions.  However, experience and confidence alone are not enough to consistently grow a company.  At some point, you run out of luck.

There is certainly a place for being impulsive and trusting your intuition.  We have all have examples of being forced to make tough decisions with limited time and information.  However, often this pressure is self-inflicted.  Thankfully, most of us do not operate in a battlefield environment where all you have is your training, experience, and gut.  I urge you to take the following eight steps before jumping into any major business decision:

  1. Consult colleagues and peers who have previous experience with the issue or a similar type of issue – look for examples you can learn from
  2. Solicit feedback from people who will be directly affected by the decision
  3. Take some time to carefully think through the pros and cons of the decision and then rank the top five in each category
  4. Consider the worst possible outcome and what you would do should this happen
  5. Make sure the decision is aligned with your core values as a person and you truly “believe” it is the right thing to do
  6. Estimate the time, costs and skills required to be successful and then increase this by 15% and then assess whether you can carry the burden
  7. Make sure you have the personal capacity to provide the leadership required and a plan to address any potential knowledge or performance gaps
  8. Have an exit strategy – what would make you pull the plug

I know this all sounds like considerable effort, but it is worth it.  Time spent on the front end will save you on the back end.  I realize not every decision is a major issue and you may shortcut some of the steps some of the time.  On balance, it is usually better to think before you act.