Becoming a Better Decision-Maker for your Business

Business leaders must be skilled in a wide range of business functions. They must be good communicators, be able to motivate their workforce, and often serve as spokespeople for their brands.

Most importantly, business leaders must be good decision-makers. A leader who has difficulty arriving at a decision or who refuses to alter a bad decision can cause harm to their organization. It’s important that the person in charge—as well as others with authority throughout the company—are equipped to make key decisions in an efficient manner.062117 0056

At Baillie Lumber we have to make tough decisions every day, just like many of our customers and associates. We strive to look for new ways to refine and improve our decision-making processes in order for us to remain successful and competitive in the hardwood lumber industry. Whether that means making decisions regarding bidding on a timber tract, buying green lumber, whether to saw Red Oak or White Oak next, or even determining how to bring our hardwood lumber products to market, we always try to use efficient decision-making to improve our processes.   

Here are a few ways that we have found helpful to keep in mind if you are looking to become a better decision maker for your organization:

Take time to think through the issue, but not too much time. In an ideal world, you would like to have a considerable amount of time to think through a difficult problem and come up with the best solution. In the real world, no one has the luxury of time. Good decision-making starts with “determining the deadline for making that decision (if it’s not already obvious) and use that as the time-frame in which to deliberate.”

Respect your instincts but keep them in perspective. Strong leaders often have a gut feeling of a particular decision. When you’re in the decision-making mode, try to carve out a quiet space in which to think through your first instincts, balancing it against the realities of the situation.

It is important to consider that if everyone around you takes an opposing view, it is foolish not to heed this warning. However, if your instinct for a particular course of action persists, it’s worth closely examining its merits as objectively as possible. 

Don’t stick with a bad decision. CEOs and business owners can fall prey to their egos, just like anyone else. However, the refusal to change what is obviously a bad decision can have a ripple effect throughout the organization. Many people’s lives (not to mention the business itself) can be negatively affected.

If it becomes clear you’ve made an unfortunate decision, the Harvard Business Review advises taking these steps:

  • Act quickly to change course.
  • Identify a new, better solution.
  • “Extract the lesson” of the wrong decision for future reference.
  • Share your lesson learned with others.

No one can be right all the time. Strong leadership is based on the willingness to accept responsibility and keep moving forward.

Don’t make all the decisions yourself. Speaking of responsibility, most business leaders quickly learn they can’t do everything themselves. This includes trying to make decisions on every small matter that crosses their desk. The ideal solution is hiring and training people who can evaluate most situations on their own and take the appropriate action—without bringing the matter to your attention.

Undertake a “decision-postmortem.” Recognizing that many decisions must be made quickly (often with insufficient background information), it’s a good idea to do a postmortem on key strategic decisions. Without looking back and determining the overall success or failure of a decision, “it’s easy to avoid reexamining the issues or learning anything from the decision,” notes business expert Joel Trammell. Taking insights from the process can help your organization “grow in its ability to make decisions.”

Looking closely at how you make decisions can lead to refinements in the process that benefit you personally, as well as the future direction of your company. Keeping these tips in mind can hopefully help you find some clarity in your decision making process.

What suggestions do you have for improving decision making processes? We would love to hear from you.

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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