Thoughts on Enhancing the Ways You Make Decisions

Business leaders know sound decision making is never easy. Today, with the flood of data coming at us with ever-increasing speed, it can be harder than ever. Making effective decisions for your company—and its place in the industry at large—nowadays requires more than a simple “gut check” about what to do next.

For us at Baillie Lumber we are always looking for new ways to enhance and accelerate the decision-making process. We’re also constantly trying to grow the decision-making talents of those in all aspects of the hardwood lumber business. That includes those of our team in our forestry group, sawmill operations, the concentration yards, or in administrative positions. Our objective to help everyone improve their decision-making skills so that everyone on our team knows how to analyze a given situation and assist in determining the right action steps to take. Decisonmaking2

When we focus on improving decision making we have found that it helps to encourage our team to include these few thoughts. 

Look at an issue through a new frame. Sometimes we get stuck in the way we look at a particular issue or challenge. In these circumstances, try reframing the problem and viewing it through a range of different perspectives. It’s also a good idea to bring others in for a fresh viewpoint. 

Think cost-benefit analysis. As you consider differing solutions for a problem, conduct a quick informal cost-benefit analysis that includes: 

·       Assessing the potential costs involved in a particular decision
·       Engaging in a realistic appraisal of benefits resulting from the decision
·       Evaluating a range of possible solutions 

Factoring in costs and possible benefits can help clarify the decision-making process. 

Become more comfortable with risk. Most of us are, by nature, fairly risk-aversive. What if you tried embracing risk, rather than avoiding it? We remind our team that one of our core values is to encourage risk-taking. So do it! 

As you embark on the decision-making process, “ask for information on how the plan could go wrong,” notes BDC. “Examine all the evidence, both good and bad,” and move forward with a clear grasp of the possible risks involved. 

Consider delegating key decisions to your team. Maybe the problem you face is something others can weigh in on. Consider delegating key decisions to your most clear-headed employees and support the ideas they propose (as long as they are feasible, of course). This builds employee morale, while also training key staff members to grow into leadership roles.

Be prepared for what you can’t expect. Many business situations are challenging because of their complexity. With all the research and time in the world, something can happen that throws a wrench in your decision-making process. As Ground Floor Partners notes, “No matter how much analysis and planning you do, you cannot predict the future.” Therefore, keep your plans “flexible enough that you can adapt to the unexpected, without throwing everything off course.” 

Act swiftly and with conviction. The moment will come when a decision must be made, and action taken. Effective leaders often possess a “bias for action”—the drive to move forward in a determined manner, knowing it’s almost never possible to have all the information needed to make an informed decision.  

Perhaps most importantly, the next time a decision is called for, encourage all of those on your team to look closely at how they go about making it. A deeper understanding of the process can help lead to refinements that dramatically improve the quality of the decisions.  

What has worked for you in the past when it comes to decision making in the hardwood lumber industry?  Let us know. We would love to hear from you! 

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber Co.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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