Making Decisions When the Path is Uncertain and Confusing

The path forward is uncertain and confusing:

  1. Multiple options present themselves.
  2. Future contingencies hide from sight.
  3. Decisions narrow or eliminate options.
  4. Conflicting advice calls from reliable sources.
  5. Results matter.

You feel pulled between multiple options. One choice eliminates another.

4 decision-making principles:

#1. Set a decision deadline.

Ask your team, “When can we make this decision?” Set a specific date.

Use greater caution and seek more input when stakes are high. Don’t bet the farm if you can’t afford to be homeless.

#2. Go with your highest point of clarity.

For day-to-day decisions, consider desired outcomes, people impacted, resources required, and then go with your highest point of clarity.

If you’re perfectly clear, you haven’t adequately considered the path forward.

#3. Expect greater clarity AS you move forward, not before.

You’re always looking into a dark room. The light comes on after you step into the dark.

Action clarifies complexity.

Challenge teams to “try something” that won’t cause harm.

Ask, “What can we try in the near term?”

Inaction won’t create the future you desire.

#4. Use the big picture to evaluate current options.

I’m a fan of Tom Peter’s idea, “Do stuff.” But keep the big picture in mind.


  1. What do we really want?
  2. What are we trying to accomplish?
  3. If we succeed, how will things be different?

Uncertainty creates confusion.

Confusion causes you to stall.

In a confusing world, pursue your highest point of clarity, before stagnation sets in.

The path emerges as you move forward, not before.

What hinders the decision-making process?

What decision-making principles might you suggest?

Bonus material:

Top 10 Ways to Make Better Decisions (New Scientist)

5 Tips for Better Decision-Making (Psychology Today)

Best decision-making book: Think, Fast and Slow.