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Improve decision-making by developing alternatives

ThreeChoicesRecently, I’ve been thinking a lot about decision-making by leaders.  The reason isn’t terribly earth-shattering, it’s only because an association client has asked me to re-develop a program for their members on tools and skills for problem-solving and decision-making.  But since I often blog on this subject (most recently just at the end of June), I’d like to, for the next two weeks, focus on offering up a few definitive ideas on how to make more effective leadership decisions.  Today’s specific tool – develop at least three or more realistic alternatives.

Significant research into the psychology and process of decision-making shows that no other practice improves the quality of decisions more than expanding your choices.  So brainstorm with 2-6 colleagues (more on this number in an upcoming blog post) and put some energy and creativity into generating at least three, but ideally four or more, practical and reasonable options for the topic at hand.  It doesn’t matter what the problem or issue is, the key to ultimate better decision-making is to create choices.  And the alternatives don’t need to be drastically different from one another; tweaking one option to create another has just as much value as doing a complete U-turn between options.  The power in this decision-making tool comes from the effort and ingenuity that it takes to come up with the alternatives – the very act of engaging in this activity means that the quality of the decision-making goes up.

So in my next blog post, I’m going to offer up another specific proven technique to improve the quality of your decision-making as a leader, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear your input.  What are your thoughts and experiences with the tip I just shared?  Do you have other ideas that you can share with our learning community?  Please comment below.

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