I'm a slooooow decision taker. Specially when I don't master the topic at hand. And when I say master I really mean master. The problem with that is that you can feel the impatience building up around you. Quite often you hear the impatience building up: "Why are you still stuck on that issue?", "Why haven't you proposed an org chart already?"
Well... you know... I can't get my head around it and I've decided to take a step back and understand the problem in its entirety in order to take a good decision. I started listing the criteria under which the team will perform better and I'm now half way through my third book on neuroscience. I think with a couple more books I'll get there.
Taking decisions fast or slow is one of life's impossible balances. These impossible balances have no recipe, no mathematical solution, no way of telling whether choosing something different would have worked better. They ultimately distinguish the effective from the ineffective, and it all goes to common sense, experience and intuition. (And out of these 3 things, I'd have problems defining 2 of them.)
But, when facing an impossible balance, the least you can ask from yourself is to:
a) be aware of it
b) undestand the dynamics
The alternative is being carried away by the emotions and letting circumstances decide for you.
Speed of decision taking is an art. Should you be executive, decide quickly and let execution prove you right or wrong? Or, on the other side, should you take your time to gather facts, data, opinions, and take the best decision you can?
Yes, it depends. But let's have a look at the dynamics here.
What pushes you to take fast decisions? There are genuine reasons for it:
- Urgency. The situation demands a fast response. Fine, but watch out. Nine out of ten urgencies are false, we've all been there.
- There is nothing to wait for. No benefit in anayzing the situation further. You need to take action.
- It's easier and faster to try and see than waiting for further discussion.
But the problem comes when the driver to take a fast decisions is a combination of other people's expectations, plus your lack of character and your insecurity. While obvious, I see this constantly and it's hard to find anyone handling gracefully these situations. So often we collapse under the pressure, then disguise our weakness under some genuine reason, dressing it in our overconfident executive suit. We may even fool ourselves, but that's what we need to prevent.
If your timing is not synced with other people's (boss, peers, ...) you are in trouble. Now you need to manage people's expectations too. But instead of looking at it as an additional burden in your already complicated life, realize that this may come at your advantage. Do not hesitate and explain honestly what you are going through. Trust your own judgement as not being the result of your incompetence but the hesitation of a rational approach. In doing so, you'll be forced to break down what open loops are you working on in order to take the decision. Structuring your process will help you distinguish whether there is foundation for your delay or you are just stuck or (and) afraid of making a move.
There is nothing more refreshing than taking off those confident businessman clothes every now and then. Align what you seem and do with what you actually think and feel, and realize it always goes in your advantage. Only after you have done so you will be able to measure your effectiveness in decision making, and improve your stock of common sense, experience and intuition, whatever these are. And create some room to wait for that click in your head that tells you that now you are ready to move forward.