The decisions we make determine how well we capitalize on our opportunities and fend against threats we face. Our decisions define who we are, communicate our values to the world, and frame our future opportunities.
Each decision is an individual commitment. Each decision is part of a recursive web made of larger and smaller decisions; each interacts, influences, supports, or diminishes the outcome of one another. Our decisions are framed by our beliefs and biases; if we are not careful, we risk poor results.
As decision-makers, we are the athletes of the mind, striving for optimal performance with the use of our knowledge and experience. Like any great athlete, we need training and coaching to identify our unique strengths and weaknesses. We need practice to enhance and maintain the quality of our thinking, not only to resolve the situation immediately before us, but also to be ready for any subsequent challenges to come.
We make decisions in three-stages, each stage packed with sub-decisions of its own. Depending on the situation, the process could be fast or slow, intuitive or analytical, conscious or subconscious. These stages are:
- Problem Solving: Find the best solution. Recognize and define the problem or the need. Identify and assess solution options and select the best one.
- Decision Making: Commit to action. Recognize that decisions are personal commitments to act, to mobilize resources, execute, and be ready for the consequences of our actions.
- Change Management: Manage the change the decision brings. Track progress, get feedback, and adjust actions to ensure the problem is solved, or as needed, regroup to start over.
Each stage has its own challenges and potential pitfalls that are unique to each decision-maker. We need to be primed to overcome them.