10 Decision-Making Power Tips from Dave Ramsey
I’m convinced that indecision along with poor decision-making is the reason organizations and individuals languish and fail.
I was Dave Ramsey’s guest at a one day EntreLeadership Seminar in Nashville, Tennessee when I heard him say, “Your business, ideas, and team are paralyzed by an indecisive leader. Indecision is caused by one thing: fear.”
Dave said, “Fear will get you killed; think of the indecisive squirrel in the road who becomes road kill.”
10 Decision-making tips I enjoyed at EntreLeadership:
1. Take time proportionate to the impact of the decision; the larger the impact of the decision the more time you take.
Before I learned better, I led teams that wasted time on low-impact decisions while high-impact decisions were delayed. Placing low-impact items at the top of a meeting agenda so that you can quickly get over them is a golden opportunity to waste time on insignificant items.
2. Procrastination can be avoided by setting a self-imposed deadline, or by recognizing the reality of an actual deadline.
3. Write the deadline on the calendar.
4. Gather options. 90% of making the correct decision is gathering information.
5. Train your team to bring several solutions, not just problems.
6. Options and walking through worst-case scenarios can virtually eliminate fear.
7. What do your guiding values tell you about this issue?
8. Is there a way to minimize risk by making each part of the decision bite-size?
9. Ask experts – someone who has done it lately.
10. Ask your spouse.
Bonus: Write yourself a letter or report describing the problem, the solution, and the timeline.
Someone said, ““It’s better to be boldly decisive and risk being wrong than to agonize at length and be right too late.”
What decision-making techniques help you pull the trigger?
Which decision-making tip most helps you?
I really like your list of tips Dan and agree that fear motivates indecision. Strong emotions, conflict and other stressors preclude problem-solving too. Waiting until things subside and there’s a chance to reflect rather than react usually helps.
One other tip that I find sometimes works to help people stand back from situations is to ask, “If this decision was a close friend’s to make, what would you suggest to him or her?”
I’ve benefited from your comments recently – thanks. Today you’re dead on in identifying that emotions make deciding a lot harder; in fact, “paralysis of analysis” is more likely to set in when the emotional stakes are high. Your tip to put a little distance by asking the question looks like it could be effective.
Thx Greg ..I appreciate that. I too am gaining from your postings. To-day among other things, I have enjoyed the expressions you use ‘paralysis of analysis’ and in the following post, next post ‘ failing forward’.
Hi Dan, I think your ten points are right on. I believe decision making becomes less difficult the moment one learns that the only risk in failure is having one that does not end up teaching us something. It takes courage to commit at times but one must accept that all of the information will never be truly known. There will always be variables not thought about which is why as you correctly say one must approach problems with more than one solution.
Al, you touch on one of my favorite concepts, that of “failing forward.” Failure really isn’t if in some way it makes you or the organization a little better, and the best way for that to happen is to learn from it.
Key point here: Organizational learning only happens if you take the time to record the lesson, and then have a tool to share it and make it available for the next team trying to do something similar. That’s why a lot of organizations start formal Knowledge Bases for their teams.
There’s a critical point that’s implied by your post but not explicitly stated: You can’t wait until you know everything you’d like to know. You have to get used to deciding before you feel ready, or by the time you feel good about a choice, circumstances will pass you by.
The Army teaches to identify the most likely outcome and the worst possible outcome for each possible course of action. Then you plan for the most likely outcome, and you have a mitigation plan in case the worst comes to pass. Reality is usually somewhere between the two.
Greg I love the concept of “failing forward” and will record that one for sure. I also agree with you that too often we don’t share our lessons learned and we must remember to do so to maximize the “good” from failing.
This is also a great way to enter into key decisions related to personal growth. I love this list. I’m going to share it. Thanks, Dan!
I love your style of bringing newness in your post daily and tempt your readers to jump in with immediate comments at the end of post reading.
I go with Dave Ramsey on setting the deadline and keep it close to your workplace as a constant reminder. I use a white-board than a calender. I even admire his bringing values into a picture and most important tip of taking guidance from experts which even includes a wife. I acknowledge having good ideas/solutions coming from my wife’s side on common issues bothering me by way of sharing.
Looking for solutions and training the team to come with varied options is yet another good way of arriving at sound decisions.
I have found writing the deadline on a calender and keeping it where I can see it is key in my life. Thank you for sharing these insights.
Interesting post, Dan. I can find myself paralyzed by all of the “what if’s” and I imagine many businesses can as well. In the background of my thinking is “if you don’t have time to do it right when will you find time to do it over?” AND the fact that there aren’t THAT many things in life/business where a faulty decision really results in tragedy – we can blow up the what ifs into far too monumental hazards than they need to be.
When stuck on a decision, flip a coin then see how you feel about it. This pulls out the unarticulated concerns and passions.
Here are a few things to try which I have found to be very helpful.
1. Try speaking the problem/decision to be made out loud. Sometimes voicing it and getting it out of our head can be extremely helpful.
2. Restate the problem/decision to be made five different ways. Simply try restating it using different words, phrases, etc..The way a problem is defined (in your mind) determines how it is analyzed. Restating it in different ways helps you to see it from different angles than you otherwise would.
3. Restated from multiple points of view, meaning, try to state it as someone else would say it. Even better, have different members of your team state the problem in their own words from their own unique point of view. Try to have people with different skill sets restate the problem/decision to be made.
4. Focus on the major factors. All problems/questions have a few major factors at their root.focusing on those can help tremendously. Secondary issues can be pertinent, but not as critical.
5. Collaborate with others to problem solve. There is strength in numbers, but only up to a point.
6. Focus in, focus out (drill down to the specifics, then force yourself to push back and see it from the big picture)
7. Structure your analysis. Structured analysis ensures that there is a plan. If you were building a home, think of the structure as your blueprint, the analysis is the Choice of floor plan and layout.
8. superimpose creativity on your thinking. Ask yourself, if there were no constraints on time, money, or resources of any kind, would that affect my decision, and if so, how?
Hope you find a few of these ideas to be useful.