A leader’s daily decision checklist is daunting: From hiring or firing to major business changes, every judgment call carries with it some level of risk. A bad choice could result in a toxic hire or a new product launch that crashes and burns. Perhaps more frightening, one poor decision could scar a career forever. And so fear of negative implications leads us to delay important decisions — or not make them at all.
We try to make more perfect decisions by gathering additional information. Great, except that amassing additional information takes time, energy, and resources. And by the time you finally have perfect information, the world has changed and introduced new sources of ambiguity, thereby rendering all of that precious information totally irrelevant.
In the immortal words of RUSH, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Failure to make a decision is almost as bad as making a bad decision — and in some cases it’s worse.
Define What’s Certain, What’s Predictable, and What’s Unknown
Why do we fear ambiguity? Because lurking within is the possibility of making an incorrect decision. To better understand how much risk you’re really assuming, break down the decision into factors that contribute to your unknown. Think of it as an equation, and you’re solving for a set of missing variables.