Leaders at Xerox give importance to value-based, ethical decision-making. Dao Nguyen of Buzzfeed stresses on creativity and intuition as key to making decisions, while at Google, a defining criterion is speed or the timeframe in which choices are made.

Why do organizations and leaders differ in the way they make decisions? Experts link neuroscience and psychology to decision-making, revealing the involvement of cognitive and emotional faculties at the individual level. But within organizations, there are other factors to consider:

  • Culture: Policies, hierarchy, and politics drive choices across enterprises.
  • Perception: Individual experiences, personal values, and personality become important, when decision-making rests with a single manager or leader.
  • Environment: External factors such as the economy, government, market and consumers are other key influencers.

As a manager, how can you balance these dynamic elements and make sound decisions? Here’s a checklist:

  1. If making a decision, write down five existing company goals/ priorities that will be impacted by it. This helps focus on what is important.
  2. Write down at least three alternatives to your preferred option. Expanding choices helps in improving decisions.
  3. You’ve listed goals and priorities based on what you know. Find out what important information you might be missing – about potential business environment, the company future, etc. See how that affects your choices.
  4. Write down the impact of your decision on the future to get a practical perspective.
  5. Involve colleagues for opinions and more perspectives. It reduces bias.
  6. Write down what was decided and how much the team supports the decision. This increases commitment and helps measure the results.
  7. Schedule a follow-up after a month or two, to check if the decision needs to be tweaked.

HBR Ascend found that few companies have systems for decision-making and only 2% managers regularly apply best practices in this process. Another finding: managers who regularly followed the above steps saved an average of 10 hours of discussion, decided 10 days faster, and improved the outcome of their choices by 20%. Worth a try, don’t you think?

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