Decision-making is a skill that we generally develop on our own through our individual life experiences. Although it is a critical skill, most of us learn to make decisions through trial and error with little input on how to use an effective decision-making process. Let’s face it,
How often have you been in a situation where you have a choice to make that could affect your company image, business revenue, your cost of providing your product or service, and you feel paralyzed? A critical decision needs to be made and you can’t seem to pull your thoughts together and figure it out. How do you choose, and what happens if you don’t?
Sheena Iyengar of the Columbia University Business School explains that we often struggle with what she calls “choice overload,” and offers some valuable suggestions based on her research on how and why we choose, and what we can do to improve the way in way we make decisions leading to better results.
- Ask yourself how your options are different from one another, and then cut down your number of choices. It may seem counter-intuitive, but by eliminating options you will find it easier to process what the potential effects of each possible choice might be, making your choosing experience easier. When people have too many choices they may procrastinate or even decide not to choose. They may make a poor choice because their main concern is to make a choice rather than focusing on what that choice should be. Once a decision has been made they may feel a kind of “buyer’s remorse” because they were not happy with their decision-making process.
- Make the choices felt in a concrete way. For example, imagine you are planning a new advertising campaign and have 3 options to choose from. Ask yourself about all the possible things that would change if you chose each option. Then imagine yourself handing over a check to pay to place the ad. Decision-making is be much easier if you can make the results of each choice feel real to you.
- Divide options into categories that are relevant to you. You may put decisions into categories like marketing, or client relations. Should your time and financial resources be utilized to produce long- or short-term results?
- As you go through your decision-making process, start with simple questions and then move to the more complex. This drill-down process will help you to ease your way into the smaller details of your decision, and you will develop clarity regarding which of your choices best matches your purpose.
The success or failure of small businesses hinges on the ability of the owner to make the best possible choices. If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, 1 being not happy with how you make decisions and 10 being you are perfectly satisfied with your process and results, where would you be?
I welcome learning your thoughts on decision-making.
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