Updated: Jan 14, 2021
In a recent discussion with an SVP of Construction for a highly regarded national apartment provider, one of the #organizational challenges faced by #leadership is the speed at which critical #decisions are made by project management and other leaders. Often decisions are slowed, or completely stalled, out of concern that the wrong decision might be made. For leadership, the complete accuracy of the decision was less important than the decision itself, whereas for the PM’s the accuracy was paramount. Much of the frustration centered on how much information is enough to appropriately mitigate the #risk of a bad decision? In the book Blink, the author reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of "thin-slicing"--filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.
All well and good but how much is enough, what are the few factors and how do we overcome the inhibitions that hamstring those who fear wrong decisions and their potential fall out?
Key 1: How much is enough? In an Inc. article, Jim Schleckser states that “You need information to take the risk out of decisions, but getting too much information has a real cost. Most normal business decisions can be made with 75 percent of the available information, focused on the right issues.”
Key 2: What are the “few” Factors? In determining the “right” factors to consider, Dave Saboe in a recent podcast on Mastering Business Analysis indicates that “By thin slicing, we start with just enough of the ‘why, what, and how’ to validate that we’re going after the right problem
. We then iterate as the project progresses and you get closer to the details.”
Key 3: Overcome inhibitions. The pareto principle would suggest that we gather 80 percent of the data and perform 80 percent of the relevant analyses in the first 20 percent of the time available, then make a decision 100 percent of the time and act decisively as if you were 100 percent confident that the decision is right.
Very few decisions are “critical” decisions and the cost of delayed decisions must be considered. A shift in perspective and weighing the value of additional time and resources versus the potential consequences of delay is an important consideration. Next time we’ll look at the psychology of decision making to better understand the underlying fears and their implications.