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Seven Killer Questions That Burst The Decision Log Jam

by The Business Alchemist

in Business Tips

Wouldn’t life be easy if you had all the information you need to make decisions and plenty of time to compare your options? In real life, we don’t usually have either and our decisions are a best guess based on our experience. A fortunate few have well-honed intuition and can make fast decisions reliably. Other may simply be over-confident and likely to be wrong.
So what can we do when we don’t have the luxuries of knowledge and time?

Here are seven questions to ask yourself that will tell you what to do when you can’t decide:

Question 1

I prefer one of my alternatives but I’m not sure. What would I do if it was removed?

If you’re immediately happy with another alternative, you should still work through the other questions before making a final decision. If not, look harder and more widely for new alternatives. Do alternatives really exclude each other? Can you combine them? The point of the question is to force you to search for more and less obvious options.

Question 2

What if my preferred alternative has a seriously flaw?

Ask yourself what could go wrong. How would you know? What could you do? How could you prevent it?
Ask the same questions for your other options.

At the heart of every seriously wrong decision is failing to ask this question through over-confidence or the mistaken belief that it’s “negative”. What’s negative about looking at what could go wrong in the future and planning for it?

Question 3

What can I do to quickly/cheaply/easily test my alternatives?

This question also forces you think more critically. If it isn’t possible to test an option, could this be a warning that it carries a high risk? The question enables you to identify both the points of no return and crossroads where you can still change direction. It also starts the planning of actions.

Question 4

What would you advise your best friend/a colleague to do?

This innocent question is very powerful because it removes distractions that prevent a decision. When we make decisions, there is often competition between our logical and emotional reasons. The emotional reasons are personal to us as individuals with our own beliefs, experiences and relationships. As a result their influence can be given much more importance than it deserves. Separating ourselves from the problem, we concentrate on the real issues, not the short term emotional impact of the decision.

Question 5

If you left, what would your replacement do in this situation?

I like this question because you can imagine anyone you want in this role and how they would tackle the problem. You not only separate yourself from it to concentrate on the real issues; the different viewpoint will deliver new insights and options.

Question 6

What would I do if I replaced somebody who had made this decision?

This forces you to look critically at the possible decisions from another viewpoint
Was the decision brilliant? obvious? wrong ? high risk?
This tests not only whether the decision is right but your confidence and if you can justify it.

Question 7

Next week/next month/next year, what would make you either change direction or congratulate yourself?

Even the best decision is based on our knowledge and prediction at the time. The business environment, however, is always changing.

If we stop treating decisions as permanent and instead plan what would make us change direction, we can be more inventive with our options, more far sighted than other competitors, faster and more flexible in our response to change.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please Contact Me via the link below and also receive my report “Ten Practical Tips to Find Original Answers to Any Business Problem”.

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