The moment you step into a leadership role, you become a decision maker. Fortunately, many decisions have fairly obvious solutions. Others, however, can be serious conundrums, and what you decide today can have widespread ramifications for you, your company, your employees, your customers, and other stakeholders tomorrow. In these situations, you want to be able to proceed with confidence and clarity, but this is not always a simple task.
One thing is clear: you don’t want to get stuck in a perpetual cycle of analysis paralysis. This is a surefire way to make default decisions, and often those decisions don’t turn out too well. So you need to create a framework for making decisions that works for you every time, regardless of the circumstances.
There is no single decision-making process that works for all leaders. You have to come up with what makes the most sense based on everything from your position to your leadership style. To help you build a decision-making pattern to follow, take a look at how some successful entrepreneurs tackle their toughest conundrums and successfully make the toughest decisions of their careers.
1. Look at the problem from a new perspective.
Like so many other leaders, Donna Byrd’s entire business plan was turned upside down in 2020. As the founder of BlueButterfly, Byrd and her team were about to launch their unique, digital funeral planning site when the pandemic hit . He explains that after a year of building his company’s website and strategy, he had to stop everything because the global shutdowns had made BlueButterfly’s original business model obsolete.
Faced with such dire circumstances, Byrd decided to reimagine everything. Instead of presenting product offerings in person, their employees came up with designs for virtual funerals. Although these designs were within the same industry, Byrd and his co-workers had to use different skill sets and look at everything anew.
“We gathered and assessed both the pain points and the most important needs of our audience; assessed the myriad of ways we could create something elegant, meaningful and lasting for our clients; and they identified resources that could help us bring the new plans to life,” says Byrd.
His decision to start over paid off. BlueButterfly is now a leading innovator in the funeral industry because its offerings make final goodbyes more accessible and affordable for customers. And it’s all been possible because Byrd enabled and empowered his direct reports to completely rethink it.
2. Do what is hard but right for the long term of the business.
The second example of decision-making also comes from another consequence of COVID-19, which was the restriction on global travel. Robert Hoffman, the CEO of Xchange of America, was in Seoul when he first learned that a virus was spreading around the world. He was immediately reminded of similar outbreaks, but somehow he knew this would be a massive problem. It was a particularly difficult realization given that their business is focused on providing currency exchange services.
Within a week, he made what he calls an “impossibly difficult” decision. After assessing how the evolving scenario could affect Xchange of America’s operations, he decided to close nine of his company’s physical locations. Hoffman describes his decision-making at the time as “critical intuition.”
“My decision-making style in this situation could be described as ‘critical intuition’, as I didn’t have time to collect large amounts of data to review… and I had to act quickly,” he says Hoffman. decisions based on limited information, my industry experience, knowledge of international travel regulations and predictive modeling.”
Although the calls to employees and commercial real estate owners were painful, Hoffman is glad he made immediate moves instead of waiting. Many of his competitors did not take such proactive positions, while Hoffman ensured that his brand survived.
3. Resist the temptation to find the “perfect” solution.
In his position as CEO of Mongoose, Dave Marshall leans into imperfections with his three-step decision-making process. When faced with difficult situations, he first de-escalates the ramifications by asking himself, “Is this a decision that would be difficult to undo?” He notes, “The truth is, there aren’t many… even those who appear to be.”
Then empower your team members to make decisions so that everyone can voice their opinions and work together. Finally, act wholeheartedly on whatever the decision is, as long as the decision is the right one for the moment.
“I’ve never been wrong to recognize that no decision-maker (or decision-maker) is perfect, and they don’t have to be,” advises Marshall. “Perfection is not the goal. I opened up opportunities for learning when I sold my first company, and I similarly opened up opportunities for learning when I decided not to sell my second company. At the end of the day, both decisions are perfectly fine with me.”
Your next head scratcher may arrive later today, tomorrow or not until next month. But you can be sure it will come. The more prepared you are to adopt a decision-making protocol you’re comfortable with, the less likely you’ll be tossing and turning in the night.
When deciding on important matters, it is important to have a method to make sure you make the right choice. Many successful business leaders rely on the simple act of flipping a coin to make decisions. Such 3 business leaders are Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Tim Cook, who have all turned to the “50/50” method when making a difficult decision. These business leaders have successfully used this approach to make important decisions, and the same approach can also be used by any other business leader.
Here’s why they flip a coin to arrive at a decision: It doesn’t matter what the odds are, flipping a coin can provide two distinct potential outcomes which can actually simplify a decision-making process. By restricting your choices to just two, and then randomly picking one of them, you reduce the risk of making a mistake.
At Ikaroa, we believe that a decision-making process should be based on facts, and that the aim of all decisions should be to reach the best outcome. That’s why we offer data-driven solutions to help leaders make well-informed decisions. Our products provide actionable analytics to track success and give insights and tips to accurately make decisions.
In conclusion, flipping a coin may be the simplest decision-making method, but it can be effective in making decisions when the odds are more or less even. Business leaders like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Tim Cook have all used this approach to make important decisions in their careers. By using the decision-making tools from Ikaroa, business leaders can take this approach and turn it into a well-informed process which can ensure that their decisions are the right ones.