Salient Steps In the Decision making Process of a Manager

Decision making is a daily part of life for all managers and entrepreneurs. If you are either, you know how vital it is to decide correctly. A small mistake can create havoc in your business or at work. For effective and smooth running, you need to make sure that decisions are made correctly and on time. As the old saying goes “a stitch in time saves nine”; your decision making skills may be put to test during day-to-day operations or during long term strategic planning.

The following steps are crucial for making effective decisions. An expert decision maker goes through these steps in a matter of minutes. Follow these to improve your decision making and get the desired result.

1. Identify Problems

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First and foremost- know what the problem is. Identifying the issue becomes vital as often when pressed for time, we tend to work on a solution that does nothing to resolve the issue. Identify the specific problem and devise a strategy to negate the same. Recognize the opportunity that is veiled under the problem in front of you. Then get your brain cogs to work out a suitable solution to the problem which will also help you to exploit the opportunity it presents.

While making a decision on which issues should be prioritised, ask yourself how it is going to impact the production or what impact it would have on your customers. Figure out if it is worth your time or can it be handled by your employees/ subordinates. Basically, the decision-making process shall start with the decision of whether you should take the call.

2. Due Diligence

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The more you know, the more you are prepared to deal with any situation. Seek out information- who, what, where and when. Find out about the individuals involved in creating the problem (catching the culprit). Also figure out who are responsible for resolving the issue, who can help and who has the ultimate power to set this right.

Gather more information about what and where the problem is, what could be the probable causes for the problem and what information may be relevant or irrelevant in your decision making. Another detail that needs to be kept in mind is the time constraint. You need to know before-hand by when the issue needs to be resolved. Understanding in depth about the issue is crucial before jumping into conclusions and starting work on a solution. That sort of behaviour mostly ends in wastage of time and talent. Avoid this and prepare in advance.

3. Figure Out The Potential Solutions

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This may require a short brainstorming session or months of strategic planning with the team. Focus on the information gathered by you and come to solutions and alternative courses of action. Look into the problem from all angles. Ask for help if you are stuck. A fresh perspective can unveil a different interpretation of the data at hand.

Imagine possible rectified scenarios and plan meticulously to achieve that. It is vital to keep a positive and creative mindset when tackling problems. Generate a multiple number of possible solutions- basically have your Plan B (C, D, E and so on) ready just in case one solution does not work.

4. Choose The Best Solution

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After deriving at a list of probable solutions to the problem, it is important that we evaluate and select the right one to begin with. Firstly figure out on what basis or criteria you need to evaluate your options. Weigh the pros and cons of each option. Factor in the desirability, efficacy, acceptability and feasibility of each of them. Gather additional information if need be. Decide for yourself which of the options in your list is most likely to succeed. Ensure to pay heed to the cost involved.

Analyse and assess the risk involved in your selected solution and be aware of the future problems it might give rise to. Weigh in the risks and figure out trouble shooting plans for such adverse scenarios. Analyse if the risks involved in the solution are worth taking. Get your team involved or even ask feedback from a SME (Subject Matter Expert) when deciding on the course of action.

5. Implement the Plan

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Once you have brainstormed and planned well with enough knowledge, it is time to act on your decision. Do not second guess yourself. If you have followed the previous steps, it is unlikely that the plan would backfire badly. Get your team behind you and execute with conviction. Allocate enough resources to the cause and motivate your team to commit to implementing your plan.

6. Evaluate Outcomes

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Failure is a part of life and even if you don’t fail, it is extremely important that you keep track of the outcome of your chosen solution. Fine tune your plan to eradicate the problem as you progress. Learn from your mistakes and figure out how to make your plan fool proof. If a plan seems to be not working, no matter what you do, ditch it. Know when to ditch a faulty plan and move on to your Plan B. The correct decision to switch plans at the correct time will save you loads of time, money and resources. 

7. Improve Your Decision Making Skills

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After each decision, you need to figure out how you performed and how well your plan succeeded. Figure out the areas where you excelled and the areas that need to be worked on. Improve where required. If you evaluate and improve yourself regularly, gradually you will become an expert decision maker.

"A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers." -  Plato

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