Decision Making for Startups
Like it or not, decision making is part of life. We make decisions everyday, whether it’s to decide what’s for lunch, when’s a good time to get out of bed or the seemingly bigger ones like a choosing an investor or hiring a new talent – you get the drift.
Why is it that we can’t make decisions?
1. It’s people. As decisions sometimes affects others, it can be rather complex. It involves managing all the information going around, the emotions of the people involved and expectations of someone else.
2. It’s you. The fear of disappointing someone, failing, insecurities or simply just lacking knowledge and experience in the subject matter.
“No one makes perfect decisions. The idea is to choose to move ahead.”
Because of these fears, people tend to hold back, keep quiet, and wish for someone to say something.. or to look wise by saying “let’s think about it”.
The problem with thinking about it is that nothing gets done. Nothing. The problem is still there and you’re merely putting it off! More often than not, people get distracted by other priorities and eventually leads to not thinking about it – until it’s time to make a decision again.
Reality is also such that you don’t only make one decision per day. In fact, you make tons of them daily and by putting them off, you’re brewing a recipe for disaster as decisions piles up, and sometimes even snowballs from something harmless to something apocalyptic. And when it haunts you, you are cornered into deciding on whatever that helps, leaving little room for mistakes and time to rectify them.
What can you do to make decisions easier?
#1: Stop taking in information
The more you take in, the more you’re going to confuse yourself. Do your research, consult others, listen, but put a limit to the amount of information you’re taking in.
#2: Talk to yourself
Play out a conversation with yourself and be your own devil’s advocate. There’s magic in speaking out loud and you’ll be surprised at how you can land on an answer just like that.
#3: The 60-second rule
When it comes down to it, instead of saying “let’s think about it”, make a decision in 60 seconds. Sometimes, that won’t be the final decision, but it triggers a response from others and that brings you a step closer to what needs to be done.
This isn’t my favourite but in a group of opinionated people, voting can weed out less popular ideas and get to the end quicker. However, note that the majority isn’t always right.
#5: Prioritize, divide, and conquer
In a situation where there are tons of decisions to be made, start with the easier ones (e.g. with smaller impact). You and your team strives on wins, getting smaller decisions out of the way generates the energy and synergy for the more critical ones.
#6: Build the “T”
In short, weigh the pros and cons by splitting them into each side of a “T”. List down all the possibilities that you can think of and make a decision out of them.
#7: Map your thoughts
This is my favourite. Like a mind map, start by placing your problem at the center and draw out questions like: Why is this a problem, what is the impact of this decision, who are the stakeholders, what are their goals, what are the potential solutions, what if I do otherwise, and the list goes on. Keep going until you’ve exhausted your thoughts and have sufficient information in front of you to proceed.
Stop thinking and decide!
Check out the presentation slides on SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/janwong/decision-making-for-entrepreneurs
Jan Wong is the founder and online strategist at OpenMinds. He is passionate about social media, technology and startups. His journey as an entrepreneur has been featured on various media platforms locally and abroad. He also blogs at www.janwong.my.