Not All Decisions Are Equal. Here’s How to Make Better Decisions.

General Colin Powell wrote, “Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.” In a crisis, leaders must make decisions to ensure that momentum and progress happens. No matter who is impacted by your choices–employees, troops, or even the executive team–the absence of a final determination fractures trust, casts doubt about your leadership, and can also fail to unify a team.

Indeed, a decision-making advantage starts with gathering and evaluating all available information. General Powell asserts that “Your judgment will be needed to select from the best course of action.” Therefore, it’s data and your gut that give you the advantage of making informed decisions.

Not all decisions are equal. At the same time, not all decisions are sound. How, then, can leaders maximize their decision-making advantage? The answer can be found in two places: people and technology.

People and Decision Making

First, what do I mean by decision-making advantage? It’s simply ensuring you can access the best available information that helps you navigate the ambiguity and the emotions linked to the outcome.

Great leaders, like General Colin Powell, rely on their confidants, their trusted advisors. When I studied how high performing teams in organizations benefit from belonging, I learned that high-quality relationships are central to extraordinary outcomes.

High-quality relationships are shaped by bad times, great times, and empathy, trust, and respect. Assuredly, there are more ingredients to high-quality connections. However, nothing extraordinary can be achieved in isolation. How else can you maximize new insights from a wrong decision that cost the organization money? By the people in your inner circle. The people on whom you can rely on giving you constructive feedback. It’s the same people who know your blind spots and help you make sense of where your decision went sideways. In part, it’s people who give you the decision-advantage.

It takes experience. It takes humility to surround yourself with people wiser, younger, and older than you to improve and shape how you make decisions.

Technology and Decision Making

Input from trusted sources helps you make better decisions. Those hard choices must also be rooted in data.

Your data is stored in a multitude of apps and systems. Finding the data, you need to make an informed decision can be maddening. And while you and teams are working remotely, reaching out to them to locate where the latest spreadsheet or board presentation is saved only slows down your progress.

You need a technology solution that amplifies your decision-making advantage. At Bluescape, we defined three variables important for technology to do just that.

Rapid Insight

You need a technology solution that allows you to store a variety of content types. What’s more, for rapid insight, you should be able to locate it in one location. By putting all mission-critical information in one place, you can review, analyze, and collaborate to get to insights faster. You need a technology platform, like Bluescape, that allows you to view all types of content side-by-side to ensure that you’re connecting the dots appropriately in the data that you’re seeing.

Continuous Learning

The best decision-makers implement a practice of learning from successes and misfires. Whether it be an after-action review or a conversation with your trusted advisors, learning from the impact of your decisions is an essential exercise. Use technology to save and share your lessons learned in an easy-to-access tool that is secure.

Extensible Security

Technology that safely protects your data and documents is an essential business requirement. It’s a more obvious necessity these days. Your confidential data needs the best protection available no matter where it’s stored or where you and your team are working.

The singular overreliance on people or data to help you make decisions is risky. It’s your experience that guides you through determining just how much input from people and the use of technology to get data you need that makes the difference. “Your instinct as this point is not a wild guess or hunch. It is an informed instinct that knows from long experience which facts are the most important and which adverse facts…can be set aside,” declares General Powell.

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About the Author

Shawn Murphy
Shawn Murphy
Director of Organizational Behavior, Bluescape
Shawn is our Director of Organizational Behavior and Workplace Trends. His second book, Work Tribes is out now. Shawn's first book, The Optimistic Workplace is out now. Inc. has listed him twice as one of the top leadership speakers in America.

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