A Better Decision-Making Checklist

Joe Weinlick
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Regardless of your position at work, you have to make decisions every day, some of which could have long-lasting effects on your career or your company's future. Following a decision-making checklist can help you make wise choices that keep the long-term effects in mind. Before you make choices, stop to answer these simple questions.

How Does This Decision Fit With Long-Term Goals?

Too often, decision makers handle business decisions with a sense of urgency. This frequently means no long-term thought goes into choices that in fact have long-term consequences. Stop when you're about to make a major decision to review your personal or corporate goals, and weigh the possible outcomes against those goals. How does your choice of what to do bring you or your company closer to meeting your stated goals and fulfilling your mission? Don't make decisions without fitting the effects of those decisions into a larger metric and understanding what you want to accomplish.

Is the Decision Objective?

It's all too easy to be swayed toward choices that make you look good or that are easy to execute. Step back to consider what unconscious biases might be driving you or your team. Have you simply fallen in love with an idea without thinking it through? Are you trying to please someone up the chain of command? Have you considered all the alternatives and reviewed all the relevant data? Are your projections overly optimistic, or are you perhaps being too cautious as you make decisions? Taking an objective look at the possible choices leads to wise decisions.

Is the Decision Driven by Fear?

Many people make their ultimate business and personal decisions out of a sense of fear. Sometimes this fear takes the form of hesitating so long that it becomes too late to take the required action. If the work to be done looks too daunting, some people have a natural tendency to shy away from a tough decision. If you're afraid of failing, you may make decisions out of fear, failing to consider anything other than the worst-case scenario. Try stepping away from your emotions, and ask yourself what decision you would make if you could not fail. Grant yourself and your team members a sense of forgiveness for any past failures so that you can free yourself up to make decisions that are not driven by negative emotions.

When you're tempted to make hasty decisions in your personal or business life, following the pattern of the way things have always been done, you run the risk of cementing a bad choice into place and establishing a negative pattern for the future. Instead, use a decision-making checklist to force yourself into objectivity so that you can make decisions wisely.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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