In order to make good decisions, we have to get information. Correction – we have to get good information.
Sometimes, I’m amazed at the decisions people make without information. I’m not talking about ordering dinner without hearing the daily specials. People make decisions about their personal and professional lives without finding out all the good information they need.
I’m not naive. There are times when we will never get all the info we want to make a decision. There are also times when we will have to make decisions without all the information, like in the case of an emergency. But plenty of situations allow us to step back, ask ourselves a few questions, and make sure we have all the information we need to make a good decision.
When I’m faced with a challenge, here are the six questions I use to make sure I have all the information I need (or can gather) to make a decision
- What exactly is wrong? It’s very easy to misdiagnose a problem by only looking at a symptom.
- Who is involved in the problem? There’s a saying “All business is personal.” Stepping back from the emotions of the situation can offer perspective.
- Where is the problem taking place? Try to identify if the challenge exists only at certain places.
- When did the problem begin? Sometimes I discover what might have been a new problem isn’t really new after all. It’s been around for a while. It just wasn’t on my radar.
- How widespread is the problem? Understanding if the challenge only impacts me or a group of people can provide me with additional sources of information. I can reach out to others to find new info or get a third- party perspective.
- How does the problem play out over time? Probably the most important for me is this question. Knowing how the problem plays out tells me when I need to reach a decision.
I admit there are moments when I want to make a decision just because I want the situation to be over. Make a decision and move on. However, I’ve realized over time it’s better to make decisions when I should instead of making decisions because I can.
Waiting to get all the information necessary to make a good decision is never fun. But it does make for better decisions. And often saves us from going back and making a second decision to reverse the first.
Image courtesy of HR Bartender