It is part of the human condition to rush to conclusions based on a superficial analysis of the facts, sometimes relying entirely on intuition or some in built bias. We can make broad assumptions based on a single ‘fact’ or unsubstantiated opinion!
The sad reality is that we tend to be lazy when it comes to decision making. We will pick the easy options without carrying out the necessary research to validate our assumptions. Worse still we may not be consciously aware of the assumptions we are making.
If you are a lazy decision maker it can also make you inclined towards, what you presume to be, the low risk option, which may be neither the lowest risk or the best option.
So organisationally what actions that can be taken to counter this tendency towards lazy decision making ?
1. Review (honestly!) the basis upon which decisions are taken, particularly those with the largest impact on the achievement of the company vision. The basis upon which decisions are taken day to day may be quite different to company policy or written down procedures. Develop an understanding of the different kinds of bias that are present in decision making as this will point to areas where changes are required.
2. Systemise and automate key operational decisions, as much as possible. This forces decision makers to follow a step by step approach and to seek out relevant facts/conduct analysis.
3. Enhance transparency of decision making. The basis upon which key decisions are made should be formally recorded and be open to challenge. The ‘choice architecture’ should be such that all options are given due consideration.
4. Understand decision makers behaviours and motivational drivers. Different personality types will make decisions in different ways. At one extreme is the fast decision maker, who will rely on gut feel, and at the other the procrastinator who suffers from ‘paralysis by analysis’. The best decisions will be made when there is a mix of different styles involved in the process.
5. Identify and address staff morale and motivation issues. It is a safe assumption that if morale is low there is an increased risk that decisions will be inconsistent and/or suboptimal as staff may become careless and lack motivation to do the analytical groundwork necessary to support robust decision making.
6. Identify and address internal alignment issues. Unless staff are fully aligned behind the same company vision, decisions will be biased towards the achievement of particular functional or local agendas.