What causes well-meaning people to make poor decisions?
According to Harvard Business review, researchers looked at 360-feedback data from more than 50,000 leaders to find the most common paths that lead to bad decisions. They include:
1. Waiting too long for others’ input. Progress should not be sacrificed in the name of input. This is often referred to as analysis paralysis since it happens in the early phases of projects. Hesitating to escalate issues of non-responsiveness can cost you days of productivity. I’ve learned that the hard way. So, ensure that you communicate with more than the task owner. After all, they can not claim ignorance if more than one person on their team is aware of the work and communication trail.
2. Failing to get the right input at the right time. It’s critical to have the right people at the table and involved in key decisions. It may seem like a hassle when all you want is to achieve consensus and move forward, but it will pay-off in the long-run. The last thing you need is a solution that meets 80% of the requirements. Most would call that a failure.
3. Failing to understand input because of insufficient skills. Here is where objectivity is required. You need to be honest about your skill-set and those involved in the effort. Think about what needs to be accomplished and the skill-sets needed. For a recent project, I turned to reading case studies that included roles and responsibilities.
4. Failing to understand when something that worked in the past will not work now. People often become protective of long-standing systems and processes. Afterall, they usually represent months of effort. Unfortunately, this often blinds people to accepting when changes need to be made and depending on the level of influence the resister has in the organization, they can effectively stop progress. Dan Rockwell wrote a great post on dealing with rigid inflexibles.
5. Failing to know when to make a decision without all the right information and when to wait for more advice. This is critical. At some point, no matter the amount of due diligence and pressure applied, some people will not or can not deliver the input you need. Don’t let a delay turn into a project failure. Move forward but be sure to clearly communicate the assumptions, impacts and risks.
If you determine the risk is too great, you may be forced to escalate once again to ensure you receive the input needed before moving forward. You may create some friction but you’re doing what’s best for your career and the organization. Whatever you do, keep the communication history.
But all is not lost: if you recognized your habits in this list, you’re halfway to making better decisions.
- Book: Managing Transitions – Making the Most of Change by William Bridges
- Book: 9 Habits That Lead to Terrible Decisions by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman
- Article: 7 Ways to Deal with Rigid Inflexibles
- TED Video: How to Make Hard Choices
Photo credit: @magnuscederberg