Decision Making

Making a decision just happens, making a good decision takes thought and experience, being decisive takes a strategy.

While categories of decisions can be broken down in many ways, three come to mind for me pertaining to the workplace: Long-Range – Strategic, Routine, and immediate.  Each of these types requires a different approach and skill set to be successful.  


How many times have you said, I want to get out of being so reactive! Strategic long-range decision-making is what allows you to do more to achieve a more proactive approach. Spending time here is particularly crucial to the other two areas, particularly the immediate decision making.  A strategic approach does not always have to be comprehensive in nature. Simplicity will allow easy implementation regardless of the situation. All long-range approaches should be visionary to enable the team to be innovative as they make decisions and move you toward the organizational vision.

Interestingly there are members of the organization, especially the leader that spend a great deal of their time making long-range decisions. So much so that they wish to see some short term results from a decision they make. Making long-range planning and decisions must become a ‘have to’ instead of a ‘want to’! 


As the name suggests, we spend most of our decision-making time here. As human beings, we enjoy routine, and most of us are highly comfortable with routine decisions. The challenge with them is we can become complacent and not take into account all of the details while in our comfort zone.  The other considerable challenge is when we try to make the other two categories into the routine for comfort.  This can lead to too slow decisions to meet immediate needs or are not visionary enough to keep up with growth and changing environment in the long term.  


Immediate decisions can be most impactful and can have lasting consequences and even put people in danger if they are implemented poorly. Immediate decisions often need the quickest turnaround and may have the least information available to make them. Most operations divisions in any organization spend a great deal of their time in the area. As they do, they become accustomed to making many decisions quickly and can become less comfortable with long rage decision making.  While these decisions are not always an emergency, this is where emergencies fall. Immediate is the area of reactiveness and can still be consistent with a long-range approach if well prepared.  It is why preparedness is so important in any context.   Knowing what might become an obstacle before the situation arises will allow for quick and consistent decisions. 

Balancing the approach to all decision-making areas in a given day will be essential to any leader’s success. Knowing how much time you can take, how much information you can obtain before deciding will improve outcomes.  Gaining experience in all categories will create confidence in each decision that is needed.  Risk will be a part of the process because the best way to learn is to make mistakes.   Mistakes build confidence because the experience creates confidence. 

Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions.  – Mark Twain