Those of you that know me, or have been following my Business Execution blog, know that I am a big proponent of planning – both strategic and tactical. So, how can I now be advising you to make your decisions quickly? Doesn’t that fly-in-the-face of taking the time to think things through and plan?
Let me explain why I don’t think that it does, and why I believe that the speed of your decision making can be an accelerant to the growth of your business. After all, I am as big a proponent of execution as I am of planning.
As I’ve noted before, “Disciplined, But Flexible” is one of the mantras I use with my clients and others when discussing the need to plan. Disciplined enough to plan where you are going, how you are going to get there, and what resources you need along the way. Flexible enough to recognize that, as you move forward, you will learn things about your business, it’s customers and the marketplace, etc. that will require you to change what you are doing and, potentially, where you are going. Without flexibility, discipline is a straitjacket that will, in all likelihood, lead your business down a dead-end. Without discipline, flexibility will create a chaotic environment which will keep you in the same place. Making decisions quickly is part of the flexible part of the mantra. Making informed decisions is part of the discipline part of the mantra.
After you have defined your business destination and planned how you are going to get there, the speed with which you can get there is the next big concern. There are a number of things you can focus on to accelerate the attainment of your business dreams – making decisions quickly is one of them.
One of the first steps in being able to make decisions quickly is understand what constitutes a reason to make a decision. Whether the reason is a success or a failure, or your expectation of such based on unfolding events, you need to have something to measure against – for example, you can not know if your failing to meet your sales targets if you haven’t defined any sales targets in the first place. Of course we are back to the Discipline part of your business, which will help you know that a decision is necessary.
Of course, the tendency is to avoid recognizing a problem by making no decision – or a slow or safe decision. You have to accept that failure is part of the process – you are not going to be right 100% of the time. The skill is to recognize the situation quickly and then DO SOMETHING about it. Waiting until you “feel more comfortable” is often just putting off the decision you can make now – and waiting will not significantly improve the quality of your decision. Make the decision, make sure you know how to measure that decision, and if it turns out to be the wrong decision move quickly to your next decision point.
Remember, Darwin’s Law of Natural Selection is not about survival of the strongest or most intelligent, but of those that adapt the fastest.
Your path to business success is not a straight line from where you are to your defined destination; instead it will be a series of zigs and zags – much like a sailing ship tacking into the wind – where your decisions to course-correct, and their frequency, are critical to you achieving your goals in the shortest period of time. Are you making decisions quickly enough to grow your business?