A couple of questions to get you thinking: What was the worst business decision you ever made? What did it cost you? And what was the best business decision you ever made? What rewards did it bring you?
Consulting group Cap Gemini interviewed 270 senior managers reporting to the boards of companies with turnovers of more than £200 million a year for its ‘Business Decisiveness Report’. They found that while each makes an average of 20 “business critical” decisions each year, or roughly once a fortnight, 24 per cent of these are – by their own admission – wrong. Bad decisions cost Britain dear
The nature of these decisions varied, but on average, one in four of those surveyed made more than ten decisions a year about location or status of their organisation’s operations or workforce, while more than a third made in excess of ten decisions a year about business direction or strategy. The report calculates that each decision is worth £167,267, putting the cost of each year’s mistakes at some £800,000 per person per year.
It puts considering the consequences of your decisions into perspective doesn’t it? Whenever one mentions an idea is ‘a no brainer’, it has to be asked whether it is indeed. This cliché disrespects the power of the brain.
Robert S Hartman identified the relationship of values to judgement. There are 34 factors involved in making a decision and from it the Judgement Index was subsequently created. Hartman asserted that: The quality of outcome is determined by:
Competent skill sets + Competent processes + Good information x Good judgment.
Three of the factors that need to be considered are; the task which is the tactical factor, the impact on others which is the relationship factor and the consequences which is the big picture or strategic factor.
When you identify a business issue, you may well know of one or many possible solutions; each solution needs to be weighed up. Will do the task, what the impact will be on others, (your clients, employees, and partners) and what the consequences of the action might be.
When you make a decision do you tend to be realistic or idealistic? Do you deliberate? Or do you tend to react there and then? If you do react there and then, do the results tend to be effective or ineffective?
Crucial to good judgment is your value system in relation to your work and your personal life. Getting the balance right is important. When the balance is off kilter in either, your business judgement may be impaired through undue stresses. It is difficult to make any decisions when you are under stress, let alone good ones.
When you are faced with a difficult decision, there are seven steps you can take to ensure the best possible solutions will be decided. (McMahon 2007).
1. Outline your goal and outcome.
2. Gather data. You need evidence to support a solution.
3. Brainstorm with others for alternative options.
4. List the pros and cons in relation to the task, the relationship and the consequences
5. Choose the solution that has many significant pros.
6. Take action.
7. Reflect on what you have learnt for next time.
In the words of Will Rogers. “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment”. We might aim to look after our brain and consider the task, its relationships and the consequences to ensure that we have fewer bad judgements.
With thanks to Rosie Barfoot of Training for Results for the inspiration and ideas.