This is the first in a short series on Decision-Making.
Businesses live and die on the quality of decisions made by their leaders. So, it’s kind of odd that there is so little time spent on how we go about making decisions. If you want to improve your decisions as a business owner, stay tuned to the next few blogs.
Let’s take a look at a very simple model.
As a business owner, you’re after results. Results in profits, in customer satisfaction, in attraction and retention of employees, in enjoyment of work and in fulfillment from life. Every single result you get is a function of the actions you take. Those actions flow from the decisions you make, which are in turn a function of the questions you ask yourself.
Let’s start at the bottom, with questions. If you ask yourself “How do I make enough to take home $75,000?”, you won’t get answers to the question “How do I make $150,000.”. Which means you likely won’t make decisions or take actions that take you to $150,000. If you ask, how do I get a relationship, you won’t get the answers to the question “How do I get a great relationship?”
So, the starting point is to explore the questions you ask yourself. Are they inspiring questions or are disempowering? (e.g. How do I improve my team’s performance vs Why are there no good people out there? What do they reveal about your beliefs, biases and values?
This could be a topic for multiple blog posts on its own. But today, I want to explore a very important type of assumption that affects decision quality. Are you looking at a coin or a prism?
When looking at a coin, you see the world as a set of binary options. This or that. Right or Left. Good or Bad. Will work or won’t work. Perhaps because we now live in a digital age, this type of thinking is increasingly common. It can lead to tribalism, divisiveness and bad decision-making, for the simple reason that it needlessly constrains the options we are willing to examine.
When you look through a prism, you see the broad spectrum of choices available to you. It lets you see nuance and frequently spurs creative thinking. It allows you to consider different future outcomes and excite you about additional possibilities. It can even help you see common ground with people you otherwise might consider adversaries and find ways to collaborate with new and wonderful allies.
Let me give you a small and simple example of how it can go awry. A while ago I was giving a talk that lent itself to some open conversation with the crowd. Someone glowingly referenced a very popular business book and asked about it. I agreed that it was a good book with some great points but, given what I’ve observed with hundreds of entrepreneurs, it made 2 important mistakes.
Before I’d even begun to discuss them, one gentleman very angrily protested that I was wrong and that it was an excellent book. I explained that I agreed that it is excellent but that there are a couple of nuances it glossed over to remain true to its core idea. He just didn’t want to discuss it.
That’s unfortunate, because those nuances may have actually helped him more successfully apply the otherwise great lessons in the book. Seeing the question as only whether the book was “good” or “bad” shut down the possibility of some creative exploration.
And this happens all…the…time.
So, if you want to make better decisions, be aware if you are asking yourself only which of 2 options is the right one. If so, pause and ask another question. Ask what other options may be available to achieve the goal. Ask who else you can speak to; who may have struggled with this before, what resources are out there that may help.
When you see there are more possibilities, you are more likely to get to your results faster. To keep you from the overwhelm of too many decisions, you’ll went to tune in to the next post on “probabilistic thinking.”
Until then, ask great questions, to make better decisions to produce outstanding results.
If you want to be introduced to a broader array of options for your business than you may think are available to you, check out this information packed 38 minute webinar.