Decision Making - 6 Key Principles You Need to Know

When faced with a large or complex situation, there are two qualities that will lead to more effective decisions: logic and an open mind. When you approach a problem, strip your mind of preconceived opinions and prejudices. Logically assemble and learn the facts of the situation. By understanding the cause and effect relationship involved in a situation, you can formulate solutions that deal with the root of the problem. By keeping an open mind, you can creatively develop alternatives from which to choose when making your final decision.

The logical, open-minded approach to making decisions involves the following process: 

  1. Identify and define the problem. You must clearly define the problem before you can solve it. Problems that remain vague resist resolution and create anxiety. Hazy, vague issues are impossible to deal with, and they often create a periphery of new problems. Crystallize the issues so you can deal with them one at time. 
  2. Gather and analyze information. You must have accurate information to solve issues appropriately. If in your haste to find a solution you short-change this part of the process, you can create unnecessary delays and unintended results. The more information you gather about a particular issue, the more likely you will be able to reach a satisfactory decision.  
  3. Development alternative solutions. If a solution to an issue surfaces quickly, it’s tempting to simply do it. The first solution you come up with, although acceptable, may not be the best. Take time to develop alternative solutions even when you don’t think you need them and be creative.  
  4. Choose the best alternative. Most problems have several acceptable solutions. Picking the best one becomes a matter of degree. Narrow your choices down to a few of the best alternatives by evaluating your options. Consider how the solutions aligns with your goals, how it affects costs, what time is required, what are the risks, what do others you trust think, etc. After evaluating all alternatives, choose the one that best solves your problem.  
  5. Take action. Now that you have weighed all of your alternatives and have chosen the best course of action, it’s time to act.  
  6. Evaluate the decision. Finally, you should structure in-progress reviews and a final evaluation in order to gauge progress and evaluate final results.    

Implementing these steps can be instrumental in breaking large challenges, issues, or problems into manageable steps. Don't let "life" overwhelm you. Using this proven decision making model will enhance your confidence. Your personal and professional success is dependent upon your ability to make sound decisions in an appropriate time frame. 

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