To decide on something, even as trivial as the dress you will wear to office today, has implications. You choose a sloppy dress for a formal meeting and you end up losing your image. You dress up too much and you stick out sorely in the crowd.

Now think of decisions as your investments that give you returns. Some may turn out profitable, some may just go kaput. Some you may come to regret. But one cannot just leave it at that when you’re in a position where the decisions you make impact not just you but your company and the people working for it. That is why people in senior positions, the executive or the C-Suite, get paid more. Their work may seemingly appear less, but the impact is long lasting.

Whoever decided that they must increase the sugar content in Coke to compete with Pepsi would have had to give a lot of answers, not just to the customers who sorely disliked it, but also to the board and the stakeholders, for a long, long time. It was a mistake that cost Coke severely and a temporary dent in brand equity and market share.

Just how do we take the correct decisions is something one must reflect upon. There are a few factors that are integral to a decision-

  1. The information at hand (knowing what you know and what you ought to know)
  2. Risks associated with action
  3. The urgency to decide
  4. The visible and invisible impact (outcomes)
  5. Process
  6. The experience of a person taking that decision and its precedents if any
  7. Mental status of the person making the decision and personal biases
  8. External factors that exert pressure on the decision ( those you have no control over)

Strategic decision making is one thing and making day to day decisions is another, although both can have long-lasting impact. We have to make decisions almost every minute. Everything is not as easy as deciding if you want to have the pink candy or the blue. Putting up a menu for the family may be the least challenging one compared to deciding a menu for the guests- whose tastes you may not know in advance. Choosing a career, a job, a life partner, the first home and its locality, prioritizing work, choosing schools for your kids, the wardrobe, the investments we make and the time for taking the vacations, we make decisions on a compulsive level. At times, we may have the luxury of time before we decide and at others, we may have to hasten the process through sheer mental strength. In both cases, the above 8 factors will play a role and cannot be ruled out. Read more...