All marketers need to be experts in making good decisions. Often we think this means carefully weighing our options and taking the time to develop an answer. While a thoughtful approach is key, in today’s fast-paced marketplace, the world cannot wait.
If you are worried that spending too little time making a decision will have negative consequences, don’t. According Deborah Mitchell, researcher at Temple University, while most people believe that spending more time on introspection improves decision-making, data suggests otherwise. And consider this: Americans make an average of 70 decisions per day. If you spend just 10 minutes on each, it would consume 11 hours a day (and the majority of your waking hours)!
Making good decisions quickly is possible – you just need to know how.
A Quick Guide to Making Good Decisions Faster
According to the book “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”, the best way to speed up your decision-making process is to follow a guide or framework. This makes your work easier, and with a methodology your success rate for making good decisions increases 600%. In addition, your failure rate decreases by 50%.
This guide contains three sections that offer tips based on the types of decisions you need to make:
- How To Deal With Lots Of Small Decisions
- How To Make A Good Decision Right Now
- How To Make A Big Decision Faster
How To Deal With Lots Of Small Decisions
If you have a project that requires many small decisions, like a new marketing campaign, making quick decisions is important. You want to spend more time on bigger problems without getting buried in the details.
1. Trust your expert intuition on familiar problems
Expert intuition is your ability to discover an answer based on past experiences. If a problem seems like one you’ve dealt with before, the first option you choose is likely the best one. Be confident and trust your own experience to guide you in making good decisions.
2. Pare it down to two choices per problem
If each problem offers several options, simplify your decision-making process. By rating each option as “good” or “bad”, you can discard less effective options quickly and easily.
3. Use the 2-minute rule
If you have a tendency to procrastinate, adding a short deadline to the decision will force you to speed up your process. It doesn’t have to be 2 minutes; it can be somewhat longer or shorter. The important thing is to put yourself on a clock and decide before time runs out.
4. Can’t decide among several good options? Randomize it
Sometimes, the options you have are all equally good. In this case, pick one at random to move faster. Roll a die, pick it out of a hat, or use a random number app. It doesn’t matter how you choose, just as long as you decide and move on.
How To Make A Good Decision Right Now
1. Choose the most satisficing solution
Herbert Simon coined the term “satisficing” in 1956. The term means making good decisions now versus continuously trying to find the best solution. Don’t waste time obsessing over a multitude of possibilities when you need an immediate answer. Make a good decision now versus finding the perfect one later.
2. Tally it and choose the best course of action
Write down the pros and cons of each decision. The option with the most pros (or fewest cons) wins. Keeping a tally of your options is easy to do and helps you defend your decision later on.
3. “Take the best” to get to the answer
If you need to consider several variables to arrive at the best solution, you can use the “take the best” method. This process means taking the best and most important variable and making a decision based on it. While it’s nice to factor in the other variables, often the extra effort yields the same answer.[Tweet “Make a good decision now versus finding the perfect one later.”]
How To Make A Big Decision Faster
Some decisions need weeks, months, even years of planning and thinking. Most brands and businesses run on shorter timetables. Follow these guidelines if your plan needs to be “violently executed now”, as General Patton says.
1. Snap back to the present
Often times big problems are overwhelming. They affect the entire company. They are career-defining. They can have disastrous effects if things go wrong.
Forget about all of that. What-ifs and probable scenarios will do you no good. Snap back to the present and assess at your options with a calm and rational approach.
2. Delaying is worse than a bad decision
Putting off a decision means that you can’t move on. On the other hand, many times a less-than-perfect decision allows you learn and recover.
Instead of worrying about the consequences of a possible bad decision, remember – if you don’t act, someone or something will usually make your decision for you.
3. Use the Know-Think-Do framework
- KNOW the end goal. Find which project goal is the most important to the company. Or choose the one that has the most impact.
- THINK about how each option aligns with the end goal. Sometimes this means thinking about the solution in a quiet place. Sometimes it means looking at the data on hand or talking it out with someone (more to come on including a trusted colleague below).
- DO something about it. Choose the “roughly right” decision and begin work on it immediately. Feel confident to move on and let the other options go.
Consider This: Talk To Someone About The Problem
If you’re having a difficult time making a good decision, it could be that you’re having a hard time understanding the problem. One fast and simple solution is to talk about the problem with someone else. One study says that if you don’t have knowledge or experience in that problem area, “the experience of one randomly selected other person can beat your own best guess by a factor of two.”
Often explaining the issue is enough to trigger that clear, “looking from the outside in” perspective you need. As you talk about the problem, your brain can pull together the pieces of information you need to understand it. This alone can sometimes help you identify the answer even before you receive a reply.
When making decisions, just remember that the purpose of a decision is not to find the perfect option. The purpose of every decision is to get you to the next decision.
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