The problem with decision-making is that not all problems can be solved and, not all decisions need to be made. The current vogue is positivity and some of the motivational gurus will tell you that you can do anything so, following this rationale might seem like sailing into the wind.
Two problems with decision-making
- With an infinite amount of time and resources available a philosopher might say that all problems can be solved. In the real world, no one tries to solve all the problems they face, people deal with their priorities and find coping mechanisms to live with things that they cannot influence. What is true for people is also true for business and politics.
- Yes…sometimes not taking a decision can be the right thing to do. This is not a charter for avoiding things that you do not want to confront, it is just that some interventions create more problems than they solve. As in so many things, Drucker gets it right when he likens decision-making to surgery which has both positive and negative impacts. Making or not taking a decision at a given time can be just as important as making the best decision available and getting it implemented effectively.
Remain positive, but always have an eye on the downsides.
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Think about any issue that you are confronted with and consider whether you have a problem to solve or, a decision to make. Well… you do have a decision to make! You have to decide whether you have a problem to solve or another decision to make. This is the all-important decision before the decision.
The clue is in the fact that practical problems usually have their origin in the past, whilst decisions point to the future.
If your issue is that you are not getting what you want from something that you can influence, it will be because of decisions that you or someone else has made. If you really want something different, you will take a decision to change what you think is wrong.
If you have an issue and a blank piece of paper with no history to deal with, you are going to make a choice from the list of alternative options to act on. You are deciding on a strategy and if you are determined and follow it up you will create a plan and decide on tactics.
The Decision-Making Pyramid can help you with your decisions.