5 tips to supercharge your decision making

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There are distractions everywhere and they are very difficult to completely avoid. By having our devices at our fingertips, it is very easy to have your work derailed countless times per day because of emails, social media, news and meetings. From working in large corporations to startups, one of the most ineffective and prolonged distractions can be inefficient decision making processes.

A Bain & Co study states your business performance is 95% driven by decision making - so making it effective with the right people, content, and timing is critical.

In an email leaked at Tesla, Elon Musk shed some light on his learnings about decision making and the need to eliminate big, frequent, complex and useless meetings - really interesting read for all industries.

From Elon’s sentiments and our experience at CoLab, we leave you with 5 tips to supercharge your decision making process and cut the distractions:

1. Involve the right people.

Figuring out who needs to be involved in a decision is never easy, but it helps when your organization has some form of standard process. Despite being small, at CoLab we have an open information sharing model to keep people informed but we ensure decision making and design reviews are conducted by the stakeholders required based on the scope of work.

Neglecting to involve people in the decision making process early will lead to disconnect and delays in the end. Involving too many people too early will result in unproductive dialogue and lack of participation from some key contributors.

Striking a balance is critical. Define what your goals are and involve the people needed to make that choice. Keep the others informed, always.

Engagement is critical - getting the people right is the key.

2. Meet with a purpose, not because it is “scheduled”.

Large meetings are effectively useless and so are regular meetings - if there is no purpose. Elon could not be more correct here.Meet to solve an objective, not just because it's on the calendar. If you can provide an update just as effectively in a few minutes over a central communicator, do that. Save your team the time and distraction and it will benefit the whole group in the times you actually need meetings.

Next time there is a meeting on your calendar without a true purpose, consider whether it is needed.

3. Explore all alternatives.

Listening and exploration are critical to forming the foundation for making a decision. By doubling your alternatives, the chance of making a good decision increases by 600%. Brainstorm and listen to all stakeholders ideas - take this and asses it in an unbiased fashion, driven by objectives, data and standards and you will find your success increase.

Studies have shown that 4 or more alternatives are usually needed to give you a strong likelihood of covering all feasible options.

4. Use real-time communications rather than linear information propagation

Emails are nice for final formal communications, but throughout the early stages of decision making where teams are more focused on ideas and feedback, the review cycle needs to be much more real-time. In the general discussion world, tools like Slack and Office Communicators can take much of the clutter from your inbox.

In the design world, there are ranging solutions, so you need to find the right one for your team. If you are developing software, it is likely that a platform like Jira would be effective whereas if you step into the mechanical design world, our team at CoLab may be able to help you with our collaborative design management and issue tracking platform, Gradient. With Gradient your formal decisions can also be made, documented and reported to the whole team with real-time analytics and automated reporting, removing the need to ever revert to emails.

5. Communicate decisions… if not, someone else will

We are big believers in transparency. There needs to be an appropriate level of confidentiality for sensitive information, but it is so important to keep your team in the loop and informed. If you fail to do so, incorrect steps will be taken, time will be wasted and false information will be spread. A simple message or connection to a central hub of project information and regular status updates will save you countless headaches.

Which tip are you going to put into action first?

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