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How to get better at making quick decisions

Option 1, 2 or 3?

There is little time to decide now. Ideally you would have made it yesterday. What goes through your mind when you make decisions? Is it an automatic process or do you use a more systematic approach?

The ability to make the right decision is definitely one of the most important qualities you can have in business (and in your private life too, of course) – and it's especially important to make it more systematic when you are under pressure. What do you do when it comes to critical or minor decisions? Do you trust your gut feeling or do you have a template to follow that will help you analyze the problem? Here are tips to quickly help you make a more informed decision each time.

1. Define the situation you are in and the needs you want solved
Take some time to simply look at the problem parts. Is it a simple problem or are there deeper implications depending on the decisions you make? Can you break down the decision into smaller parts so that each part is more manageable? This is where you wonder where you are today and where you want to end up in the future. It's crazy to be so paralyzed with decisions that need to be made that you can't allow yourself to see the whole picture of it (you can't see the forest because of all the trees).

2. Take a few steps back so you can see the whole picture clearer
This is hard. Very often we let the past rule the decisions for the future. The past is there to inform us, not control it. A good leader learns from past experiences, both positive and negative, and he/she also knows when it's time to ask others to gain a new perspective of the situation that needs a decision.

3. What options do you have?
Here, there really is room for a brainstorm session. Think of at least five different ways you can solve the problem. All suggestions, not matter how absurd they are, should be considered and dealt with.

Analyze each option. For each alternative you list the following:
• What are the strengths?
• What are the weaknesses?
• Who/what will it affect?
• Is it possible to reach a solution in a reasonable time?
• How does this suit our goals, both long and short term?

4. Get going
Some people get stuck and never manage to get going because nothing is really going to be good enough (does that ring a bell?) Here you need to churn out something in the end. “What is the best thing you can do today?” is the question you should ask yourself. Realize that almost everything is a compromise. Every decision will have a negative side, no matter what you decide.

5. Make a decision
And do it based on the analysis you have made which you should have received the best possible option for today.

6. Make an action plan
It's time for you to decide what it is that determines the decision and that the consequences will be successful. Thus, what you want out of it. Set specific and measurable goals. Decide when you need to evaluate the impact and perhaps make changes in the plan. This action plan should include the steps you need to take, the resources required and the time you will allow for each step. And, of course, an open schedule for the evaluation of the decision.

7. Communicate the decision
Many companies stop at the decision and never take it any further in the organization in a good way. It's vital that everyone involved know what is expected to be the result of the decision and what everyone's part in it is. This is, of course, about explaining so that everyone understands. You may also need to convince people in some cases and to ensure that it becomes a priority and not just a “desk product” for someone.

8. Make it happen
The most important change is to take people's concerns into your calculations. This is a part of all new changes that people express concern. It doesn't mean that the decision is wrong, it's just the change that worries some people.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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