Thursday, 19 March 2015


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  1. Identify root causes. Making a decision to solve an immediate problem may provide a quick fix, but there could be an underlying cause to those day-to-day problems. Is the real issue linked to certain procedures or processes that could be changed? For instance, let’s say your business is constantly shipping items late. Rather than repeatedly deciding how to handle the delays, re-evaluate the shipping schedule. Perhaps your current setup doesn’t factor in time for unexpected bumps, such as machines breaking down and supply shortages. By adjusting the schedule, you’ll be able to better estimate the amount of time needed to get an item shipped. This, in turn, will likely fix the surface issue of scrambling to figure out how to handle the current delay.
  2. Ask others for input. When Molly Mahoney Matthews, president and CEO of The Starfish Group, a consulting business, needed more space, she decided to set up a second office near her home. Although she enjoyed the short commute to the office, she quickly learned that her employees were unhappy with the new arrangement. Staff members needed to have frequent face-to-face meetings, and the two locations made those difficult to carry out. “The two office locations became a running joke,” she recalls. As soon as the lease on the second location was up, she moved everyone back together again. The lesson: Get feedback before making a major decision. “Ask what they would like or dislike about upcoming or past decisions; then listen to what they say,” Matthews advises.
  3. Keep your goals in mind. Where do you want your business to be in five years? Before making a decision, run the issue past the long-term plan you have for your company (and if you don’t have goals, it’s time to make some). Make sure your choices — even the seemingly small ones — are in line with your overall outlook for the company.
  4. Let it rest for a bit. There’s often pressure on a small-business owner to make decisions quickly, but it’s usually not as urgent as it feels, Matthews notes. For important matters, take the time to sleep on it before making a decision. If you’ve just written a memo to employees, set it aside for an hour or two before sending it. When needed, ask for more time to consider your options. Once you look at a matter with fresh eyes or a good night’s sleep, you’ll be able to make a well-thought out decision that benefits the company.

Start with Goals

Two paths diverged in the woods. One goes to Heck, the other goes to Nirvana. The roads lead to different destinations and they offer different journeys. The road to Heck is paved with good intentions, while the road to Nirvana smells like teen spirit. With no goal in mind, either road will do. You can just flip a coin. But the reason you’re making a decision is because you either care about where you’ll end up, or you care about the journey to get there. Otherwise, you’d just flip a coin.
You’re in a decision-making meeting because you each have a goal. First agree on the goals. Otherwise, no other part of decision-making will even make sense.
Bernice's goal is a lifestyle business that’s fun to run and makes a decent living. Europa's goal is complete and utter economic domination of the Western world. Leaving these goals unstated keeps the discussion going in circles. By stating and discussing their individual goals, all parties can eventually agree on the main goal. Europa came around to Bernice's point of view and the goal became a fun, lifestyle business. As Bernice later explained it, "It's good to be the majority shareholder.”

Agree on Framing

You have your goal, now frame the specific decision. Framing is deciding how to express the decision. The goal is a lifestyle business. The decision is about location. We could frame it several ways:
  • Where can we locate a store to build a community of plant lovers?
  • Where can we sell the largest number of plants?
  • Where can we best serve customers?
How we frame the decision determines the options we’ll consider. "Where can we locate a store?" sends us out to analyze neighborhoods and rents. "Where can we sell the largest number of plants?" sends us to look at different distribution channels, one of which might be retail stores. "Where can we best serve customers?" sends us looking at customer wants. The group decided that for a lifestyle business, a retail store with an in-person community is best. So they agreed to ask, “Where can we locate the store to build a community?”
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