Business leaders are forced to make choices every day. Some of those decisions will prove to be highly successful and innovative; some will dissipate into thin air; some may cause dissention in the ranks, while others may have staff believing they have a chimpanzee in the CEO’s office.
A recent survey of corporate executives by a faculty of the Harvard Business School found that an enormous shift has occurred in the policy making decisions of those responsible for signing off on the expansion and profit potential of corporate America.
The research findings suggested that 10 points are necessary to provide the required maneuverability and flexibility required to keep pace in a rapidly evolving marketplace.
The skills required are:
- Improvement in Information Technology
A disciplined and focused information gathering facility is fundamental to the decision making process.
Informed decisions can only be made when senior management has the necessary data available, and that data has to be structured in such a way that the key points are logical, visible and measureable.
The requirement for improved information flow has been met by the provision of new technologies like interactive Intranet facilities and CMS (Customer Management Systems).
These new technologies provide metadata tagging and improved archive and retrieval systems, making the process of information retrieval efficient and timely for all employment tiers.
- Streamlining the Decision Making Process
Gone are the days when management decisions had to be streamed through a chain of command.
The decision making process has been accelerated by developing a strategic planning committee made up of those who have a stake in the ultimate decision/s. The participants in these committees change according to the scope of the project and the desired outcome.
These cross functional strategic development committees meet on a regular basis to review and monitor all aspects of a decision-in-progress so that a timely outcome can be achieved.
- Clear and Precise Responsibilities
In a company that requires high performance results, everyone from the janitor to the CEO has a clear mandate defining his or her primary responsibilities, role and function within the group.
Control mechanisms such as operating procedure manuals and individual job description documents ensure consistency and security in job performance, communication and feedback.
- Results Oriented Environment
In a highly functional organization, work is about getting the job done to the best of your ability and achieving the required results.
The focus is on a team-oriented environment where every individual has a role in defining the end result. This requires that all employees have a clear vision about the company’s policies and values and they accept full responsibility for his or her value in the hierarchy.
- Decentralized Decision Making
A top-heavy, centralized decision making company is slow to react to change in a rapidly evolving environment.
The efficient flow of information is halted by gridlocks and hurdles that prevent the timely receipt of relevant information by the primary decision makers.
A more autonomous hierarchy with the power to make decisions based on the employee’s level of expertise and experience and with the knowledge of the company’s strategic agenda creates a fertile and efficient flow of information.
- The Political Factor
Company politics destabilizes and interrupts the overall efficiency of a business.
By adopting precise business procedures and processes and adapting a more creative base for measurement of decision making and conflict resolution, a company can minimize political interference.
- Intuitive vs Logical Response
Making decisions that result in a positive outcome for the business relies on a healthy mix of logical analysis and well-informed intuitive skills.
Rather than basing intuition on simple “gut feel”, intuitive analysis is based on knowledge, experience, practice and the outcome of past decisions made in similar circumstances.
One of the qualities of a good leader is their ability to make decisive choices based on limited information.
- Too Much Information
One of the major barriers to a company’s ability to make decisions in a limited time span is a desire for over analysis of too much information.
Effective decision making is hampered not only by information overload, it can also be paralyzed by over analysis of that information.
If the correct processes and procedures are adopted as company policy, the provision of unnecessary information overload can be avoided.
- Results, Rewards and Recognition
An effective decision making team requires acknowledgement when the results of their decisions prove to be advantageous to the organization.
Similarly, decisions that have adversely affected the company’s performance or outcome also need to be acknowledged. In this situation, it is important for the decision makers to analyze the factors that led to the decision and take preventative measures so the outcome isn’t repeated.
It is simply human nature to get it wrong from time to time; not even the strongest and most powerful leaders get it right 100% of the time. However, it takes a strong leader to admit he or she was wrong and that it is necessary to “go back to the drawing board” to analyze where and what went awry.
A dynamic and focused company well equipped for the demands of the 21st century will usually have a strategic agenda that includes open communication channels from the top down.
In this age of advanced technology and telecommunication, there is no reason why employees involved in decision making processes should not have access to all the information required.
Outdated hierarchical structures that limit the flow of information on a “need to know” basis find themselves crippled by decisions made without the provision of correct or up-to-date information, or through indecision caused by a weighted top-heavy structure.
Transparent and open communication across all platforms enables both the company and its employees to operate in an environment where comments, feedback and conflict resolution can be handled efficiently, rapidly and without upheaval.