Reports suggest an adult makes on an average 35000 decisions every day.
That’s surely a lot of processing for our brains. Maybe some of these decisions are so minor, that we do not even recognize the exact moment we made them. Still its these decisions which allow us to thrive in our chosen surroundings.
Decision making becomes more important in a group – whether its a sports team or a business venture. Decisions are what help us move forward, allow us to discover the opportunities, to create a mental map of where we want to go. Decisions and maybe smart decisions, influence the outcome significantly.
Failure to decide
Many teams fail to decide or decide too late, and this could happen due to many possible reasons.
- They are afraid to make decisions. The culture of the team is such that fear is what drives people away from decision making
- Lack of data or information which makes the leader feel helpless (Google has helped make this a weaker cause)
- No clear leader and everyone is waiting for someone else to decide. (wonder how a mob decides?)
At work, we typically work hard to ensure our decisions are smart. We use strategic frameworks, run complicated data models, build sxcel based simulations all in the hope that this single decision would take us on the path to success, fame and glory. But reality is that its not the decision alone, its what we do once we have decided, which determines our success.
During the Common Wealth Games in New Delhi, a foot-over-bridge at one of the venues collapsed due to faulty construction. The civil contractor came back saying there was no way the bridge could be rebuilt in less than 2 months, whereas the games were less than 10 days away. Indian Army boys came in and 2 days flat the bridge was up.
So what was it that a contractor who has had the experience of building multiple such bridges in the past couldnt commit to doing something that the armed forces team could deliver so beautifully. The answer lies in the will to implement, the commitment to see through our decisions. Maybe the armed forces are an extreme example but theres a lot that todays corporates can learn.
In my small career-span I have sat through many meetings, where some smart managers and great leaders would decide on action items. But in many of those instances, there would be no follow-ups, no checks whether the decisions were really implemented within the agreed timelines. No going back to see if the course chosen is indeed correct or if it needs any further correction.
To my mind, this is one area that any leader should focus on – ensuring that there is a culture of seeing through the team’s agreed decisions.
Coz you might choose to make fewer decisions, you might also make far-from-smart decisions, but if you are able to implement those decisions, you have made progress. You would have a fresher and better perspective to re-evaluate your decision(s). You would have a team which gives the leadership the confidence to take bold steps.