Marine Corps. Leadership: Make Sound and Timely Decisions

When  there is more than one option, how do you choose?

When there is more than one option, how do you choose?

“Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired… Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.” – Colin Powell

It is easy to play “Monday morning quarterback.” As a leader, you will have many second guessing your decisions, even those decisions that were effective and successful. While it maybe unfair for others to second guess decisions after the fact, especially while we were making them in the moment, the truth is it happens from a 20/20 lens.

As leaders we must develop a sense of hindsight during, or even before the moment we make the decisions.

4 Ways to make better decisions:

  1. Focus on what is important – When presented with a variety of choices, our ability to recall stated goals and values, and then match our current options to those values and goals will allow us to weed out which choices are not conducive to our objective.

    Related: Why Older Minds Make Better Decisions

  2. Gather Information – Making informed decisions requires being informed. Leaders should be asking pertinent questions to those who will have the answers they need. Even if the first two questions are: what questions should I be asking, and to whom should I be asking them?
  3. Know your knowledge limits – The world “leader” is not synonymous with “smartest in the room,” much to the chagrin of many autocratic leaders. As leaders people often want us to make the final decision regardless of our knowledge in the area. When this happens seek council from someone who had the necessary skill set to make an informed decision.

    Related: Company Decision Making Doesn’t Need To Start At The Top

  4. Prepare for the decision before you have to make it – As leaders we must be purposeful to set aside time to think forward about possible hurdles; how those hurdles could hurt us; and what actions we need to take to before, during, and after the hurdle pops up.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but rather a solid start to improve your decision making.

What helps you make decisions in the moment? 

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