Make Decisions that are Right, Not Popular

The Laboratory of Psychological Studies of the Stevens Institute of Technology has made a study of unsuccessful executives in over 200 companies. Inability to make decisions, the study showed, was a leading reason for the failure of the executives. Certainly this finding is borne out by the experience of practicing executives.

How can you improve your ability to make good decisions? It is not an easy job as we shall see. It is a more complex job than making decision in a laboratory or a classroom. It is far more than an intellectual exercise. It is complicated by subtle currents and cross-currents of human behavior and by many conflicts of feeling, both in the executive and his relations with associates. Mental ability, therefore, is only part of the boss’s needs. He must have a high amount of courage if he is to become a good decision-maker. Also he must learn how to make full use of hunches and intuition.

Beyond these basic requirements there are a number of specific, everyday steps and precautions that will help an executive improve the record of his decisions:

  • At the beginning of a new job, hold back a little before deciding to change things around. And even after you are sure that the old policy, method, or system is wrong, give yourself time before changing it. Failure to do so is one of the most common sources of trouble.
  • Watch the little decisions. They have a habit of turning into big decisions.
  • In analyzing problems, try to find the answer that will help sell the organization and its products and services-not the answer that will help sell you personally.
  • If possible, talk over your feelings and judgments with trusted friends from time to time.
  • Test different alternatives (including ones you do not like) against the facts and figures opn hand before reaching a final conclusion. Don’t settle too quickly on the apparent answer.
  • Where the stakes involved are sizable, try to allow a little extra time for making up your mind. It is surprising how often unexpected difficulties arise and complicate the time schedule.
  • To develop a better “feel” for management problems pick two or three questions and study them in depth. Thoroughly mastering a few problems will sharpen your sixth sense for many other situations.

Author: KPO

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