"Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information."
--- Peter Drucker
In his collection of mentoring advice, Breakfast with Fred, Fred Smith, Sr. includes a section about decision making that is worth repeating. In it he says that decision making is both an art and a science. There are individuals who intuitively make good decisions, both in seeing problems and possibilities.
Kettering, the automotive genius, said, "A problem well-defined is half solved." Others have said, "The secret of good decisions is in knowing all the options." Once we know the options, it is fairly simple to choose the best ones.
"I'm convinced that we can write and live our own scripts more than most people will acknowledge. I also know the price that must be paid. It's a real struggle to do it. It requires visualization and affirmation. It involves living a life of integrity, starting with making and keeping promises, until the whole human personality the senses, the thinking, the feeling, and the intuition are ultimately integrated and harmonized."
--- Stephen Covey
Before President of Ford Motor Company Robert McNamara would accept someone's suggestion, he would ask, "What other possibilities did you reject in order to accept this one?" Many times the individual would have to admit that the one being presented was the first one considered. McNamara would then insist on other options.
"I became a vegan and at the same time I realized, gosh, Whole Foods has got to create a higher standard here. I think it will ultimately be a good business decision because I think our customers expect us, want us to pave this path."
--- John Mackey
In order to pick good options, you first have to know what the object of the decision is - what it is supposed to solve, either as a problem or as a possibility. We should try first to determine the current reality by establishing the current facts - not what we wish they were, but what they actually are.
Then, we need to think about the ramifications of each option. Next, we need to think about how each option can be implemented and enforced, since a solution that cannot be executed is totally impractical.
"My job is to listen to ideas, maybe cook up a few of my own, and make decisions based on what's good for the shareholders and for the company."
--- Philip Knight
Historians tell us that General Robert E. Lee continually asked his subordinates, "What opportunities do we have before us?" He asked this question of them even up to and including the day of his surrender at Appomattox. Robert E. Lee lost the Civil War, but he made many great strategic decisions, including the one to surrender.
"You can't build a strong corporation with a lot of committees and a board that has to be consulted every turn. You have to be able to make decisions on your own."
--- Robert Murdoch
A good decision is structurally sound and effectively executed. Becoming a good decision-maker is a satisfactory experience. What opportunities do you have before you right now and how do you determine what your options are?