Making effective business decisions is one of the biggest challenges any company or leader faces, and because making a wrong move could be so damaging, a company must train its staff so that they can make the right decisions, whatever the level of pressure at the time.
Making decisions is not always easy
The right strategic decisions are based on taking into account the big picture, not just the details of the present situation. Therefore, when making strategic decisions, it’s essential to consider the long term benefits and consequences of the options available.
Developing such a skill set requires proper training and a combination of knowledge, experience, and intuition. Plus of course, a detailed and flexible plan to help you define the problem and pick the best course of action.
Stages of the strategic decision-making process
Step 1 – Defining The Problem
Besides the details of the problem, you also have to consider whether it is one that can actually be solved, at least at your level of responsibility.
It is also necessary to understand whether this issue is a part of a larger one, as, in these instances, you will have to dig deeper and find out more about the larger picture.
Besides considering the problem, you also have to consider how much you will gain if you solve it. After all, solving some problems is often not worth the effort.
Then, of course, you need to consider whether it has to be dealt with immediately or whether it can be put aside.
Step 2 – Information Gathering
One of the most important things to understand is where the problem originated and how it developed over time.
You will need to question the relevant stakeholders and groups involved to see how the issue affects them and how serious it is from their point of view.
In many cases, there will be a lot of facts and data to compile and sort, including interview transcriptions.
You will also have to check for constraints, which will make solving the problem that much harder, like lack of budget or cultural barriers.
Above all, you have to keep asking yourself questions and ensure that you don’t miss anything important.
Step 3 – Developing and Evaluating Your Options
Most problems can be solved in many different ways, which is one of the most significant barriers to making effective decisions. This is why it is vital to develop solutions and consider what effect their implementation would have on the business.
This is one area in which simulations can really help, as you can actually see what the results are for each solution without endangering the business.
Step 4 – Selecting The Best Option
Sometimes decisions can be based solely on hard facts, but a certain amount of emotional intelligence and experience are required in many instances.
In every case, you will have to accept that the solution may well not be perfect and that it could end up being a compromise.
Nevertheless, if you have examined the problem in enough detail and considered all the solutions and their effects, you will have reached the best possible decision.
Again, simulations can assist here, since you can play through each solution in turn (or at least as many as you can) and actually see which is best.
Step 5 – Implementing and Monitoring
Having decided on the best option, you then have to develop a step by step plan on how to implement it. These often require further hard decisions.
You will also need to establish clear and concise communication channels with all stakeholders and staff.
Other issues are the allocation of resources and timelines, together with reporting systems so that you can be kept up to date with events and progress.
It will also be necessary to measure the level of success so that you can gauge progress.
A vision board can help you visualise your strategy and goals. Vision boards are collages of images that represent your goals. To create a vision board, you can use any medium you want. It can be a PowerPoint presentation, a journal, or a Pinterest board.
Holding a Brainstorming Session
When you have identified your goals, you could hold a brainstorming session. During a brainstorming session, you collect as many ideas as possible that will allow you to achieve your goals and solve the problem. These can also be very useful in the ‘Gathering Information Stage’.
You can help these sessions along by asking two questions in relation to the problem. “What is working?” and “What is not working?” By asking these two questions, you will be able to identify the areas in which your company or organisation is currently performing well and areas that are not working.
When making strategic decisions, it’s essential that you consider the long term benefits and consequences of the options available. To make better strategic decisions, you must first identify your goals, set priorities, collect all the data and define the possible solutions and strategies.
By doing this, you will be able to make more effective strategic decisions.
As hinted at above, in order to help you practise strategic decision making, in a risk free environment, simulations can be very useful.
For information on making Effective Strategic Decisions see :