Making Great Decisions

Making Great DecisionsMaking Great Decisions

Mckinsey Quarterly, April 2013


  • The further we move up the ladder the harder it is to be told or to say “my judgment is fallible”.
  • We all have dominate biases: Inertia (status quo), confirmation (justification based on experience/desire), and social (group think, popularity).
  • Awareness to our biases does not make us immune to them.
  • Most decisions are based on “politics, persuasion, and PowerPoint” and none of these “three Ps” are fully trustworthy.
  • The three biggest things to know to improve decision-making: Few decisions are truly unique (learn from others), recognize uncertainty repare to be wrong) and enable debate (have tools to facilitate
    dialogue and take the heat).
  • Leaders do a disservice by calling it a decision-making process. It conjures up images of bureaucracy, slowness and decisions by committee—all things associated with bad leadership.
  • We need to think of ourselves as an architect to make great decisions not a great decision maker.
  • The decision-making process can be broken down into the equal of a grocery-store check-list.
  • Creating a standard language (vocabulary) to help people introspect about how they make decisions is essential.
  • Providing tools that can be used in five or ten minutes won’t make decision-making perfect but will improve it substantially.

Our Point of View:

  • There are intentional ways to remove most (not all) of our ego and biases when making business decisions.
  • “Politics, persuasion, and PowerPoint” are the current “de-facto standards” for business decision-making. The use of these standards erode trust, destroy
    morale and waste time, people, resources and capital.
  • Business decision-making continues as a “mysterious art” because ALL OF US have an over reliance (bias) on inertia (status quo).
  • Anyone regardless of age, experience, or title can quickly and easily become an architect to make better decisions.
  • Leadership is solely accountable to provide the decision-making standards to make this happen: mind-set (confidence), skill-set (competencies), and tool-set (easy to use job aids).
  • Leadership must do this without adding an abusive amount of overhead (process overkill, bureaucracy, decisions by committee).
  • Forward-thinking executives recognize decision-making as an organizational competence and are investing heavily to eradicate the “mysterious art” of decision-making in their organizations.

pdfMaking Great Decisions

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