We all take many decisions in our daily lives. Some more complex and important, others more simple and ordinary, but almost every day we make choices.
To complicate our situation, now with so many choices, deciding is even more delicate and time consuming. What could be a simple choice between two variables, ended up by being something that involves more than ten options.
But how to ensure that we are making good choices?
The Harvard Business Review did a study of over 50,000 leaders and raised nine behaviors that tend to make us make bad decisions. Below is a list of behaviors to avoid:
- 1) Laziness: this showed up as a failure to check facts, to take the initiative, to confirm assumptions, or to gather additional input. Lazy people tend to be sloppy in their work and unwilling to put themselves out. They are relied on past experience and expect future results to be a simple extrapolation of the past.
- 2) Not anticipatingunexpected events: it is discouraging to consistently consider that negative events can happen in our lives, so it is common to assume that the worst will never happen. Unfortunately, there is always the risk of things do not go as expected. People die, get divorced, and have accidents. Markets crash, house prices go down, and friends are unreliable. There is excellent research showing that if people only take time to consider what might go wrong, they can become very good at anticipating problems. But many people are so excited about a decision they are taking that they never take the time to do that simple due-diligence.
- 3) Indecisiveness: at the other end on the scale, when faced with complex decisions that will be based on constantly changing data, it is very easy to follow continuously studying the data, asking for one more report , or perform yet one more analysis before a decision gets made. When the reports and analysis take much longer than expected, poor decision makers delay, and the opportunity is missed. It takes courage to look at the data, consider the consequences responsibly, and then move forward. Oftentimes indecision is worse than making the wrong decision. The most paralyzed by fear are the ones who believe that a mistake can ruin their lives and thus avoid taking any kind of risk.
- 4) Remaining locked in the past: some people make poor decisions because they’re using the same old data or processes they always have. These people get used approaches that worked in the past and tend not to look for approaches that will work better. It is very common that a decision goes wrong because the old process is based on assumptions that are no longer true. Poor decision makers fail to question the validity of their old assumptions.
- 5) Having no strategic alignment: bad decisions sometimes can be the result of the failure to connect the problem with the larger strategy. In the absence of a clear strategy that provides context, many solutions appear to make sense. When having greater clarity of the connection between the problem and the larger strategy, best solutions often emerge.
- 6) Over-dependence: some decisions are never made because a person is waiting for another, which in waiting for someone else’s decision or input. Effective decision makers can find ways to act independently when necessary.
- 7) Isolation: a lot of our research on effective decision making recognizes that involving others with the relevant knowledge, experience, and expertise improves the quality of the decision. So for what reason do some people always follow isolating themselves? Sometimes people lack the necessary networking skills to access the right information. Other times, people don’t involve others because they want the credit for a decision. Unfortunately they can get to take the demerit for poor decision, as well.
- 8) Lack of technical depth: the world today is very complex and even the most experienced people and great leaders do not have enough technical depth to fully understand multifaceted issues. However, when decision makers rely only on the knowledge of others without any perspective of their own, they have a difficult time integrating that information to make effective decisions. And when they are deprived of a basic knowledge and expertise, they have no way to tell if a decision is brilliant or terrible. Thus, research shows that the best decision makers follow with a good level of technical knowledge in their area of expertise. And when they still don’t have the technical depth to understand the implications of the decisions they face, they make it their business to find the talent they need to help them.
- 9) Failure to communicate the what, where, when, and how associated with their decisions: some good decisions can become bad because people don’t understand or even know about them. Communicating a decision, its rational and implications, is critical to the successful implementation of a decision.
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