The most important process in business is decision-making. Hands-down. Big or small, if a management or project team can get that right, that’s half the battle. And if they can’t, they’ll fail. Period.

Most don’t get it right. That’s why most ventures fail.

Interestingly enough, it’s the same with small businesses and individuals making career or even life decisions. It’s the same with nonprofits and government institutions. It’s the same everywhere.

Two things determine the future … your future: decisions and chance. You only have control over one. So it’s a pretty big deal. That’s why I spend so much time talking about it. If you can do one thing right, it’s decision-making.

There’s only one way to do it right and countless ways to do it wrong. Here’s the right way:

1. Determine and agree upon the situation, goals and options. Be factual.

2. Get information only from trustworthy, knowledgeable sources.

3. Discuss openly, encouraging all key stakeholders to voice their opinions.

4. Be completely open and honest; nothing is out of bounds or filtered.

5. Trust your instincts in making the final decision.

6. Document it and make sure everyone is onboard.

7. See it through before reevaluating.

If you do it once or twice, you’ll definitely see the wisdom of the approach. It doesn’t matter if the stakeholders are a management team, a project team, a board of directors, or your friends and family. The process is always the same.

It also demonstrates why the wisdom of crowds is a myth. The determination of facts, peer pressure of open face-to-face discussion, and final leadership decision are all key elements of the process, and they can’t occur by proxy. There is no wisdom in crowds. Period. The same goes for crowdsourcing. And common wisdom is a flat out oxymoron. Wisdom is never common.

I spend a chapter on this in Real Leaders Don’t Follow. That’s how important it is. I strongly encourage each of you to spend some time with this. And let me know if you have any questions; I’m happy to help.

Image credit Garrett Coakley Flickr

  • Tom

    This is very timely for me. Soon we must decide how and where to live out the remaining stages of retirement. You would think by now the decision making process would be easy, but not so. Unexpected circumstances require the due diligence you describe.

    • Steve Tobak

      When it comes to marital stuff, just being able to have a rational discussion is half the battle.