Decision Making in a Complex World

decision making

We live and work in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. Companies are bought and sold. New products and services are developed. Emerging marketplaces evolve. Revolutionary technologies are introduced. With all these changes taking place, is it any wonder why people are overloaded and overwhelmed?

In this chaotic environment, how does anything get done or decided? It depends on the company and its decision making process. In some organizations, many key initiatives are delayed or simply come to a grinding halt because of the sheer number of options and complexities to consider (“paralysis by analysis”). In this setting, sometimes it’s just easier to “table” decisions than to come to a “yes” or “no” conclusion.

The reasons why initiatives aren’t moving forward in a timely manner are varied, but here are some common obstacles:

decision making

1. Square peg in a round hole. In some cases, companies are looking at solutions to problems or needs that have not yet been clearly identified. When this happens, there tends to be a lot of discussion, but it is circular in nature.

2. The desire to explore all options. Depending on a company’s organizational structure, there may be too much value placed on collaboration. As a result, input is sought from far too many people. In this case, as companies discuss and pursue all of the possibilities, the length of time it takes to make a decision extends far beyond what is reasonable, thereby having a negative impact on return on investment. In other words, a delay can be very costly to the company.

3. Risk-averse corporate culture. When companies choose security over innovation, they miss opportunities. In this environment, people fear making a mistake or investing in the unknown. As a result, they are afraid to step outside the box and offer new ideas. Yet many evolving leaders now recognize failure as a necessary part of success and are beginning to value exploration and uncertainty as they move into unchartered waters.

4. Making plans but not decisions. Despite all the time and energy companies put into strategic planning, the process can create a barrier to decision making. Employees may carry a great deal of responsibility, but have little authority when it comes to allocating resources. Perhaps priorities are unclear, in constant flux or fail to evolve in response to changing demands.

Understanding Your Company’s Decision Making Process

Companies that are agile and make quick decisions are more likely to succeed in today’s highly complex and fast-changing environment. So what can companies due to avoid these roadblocks? Develop a better awareness of the decision making process within their organizations. Know when it’s critical to be decisive, choose their battles wisely, be resource conscious and create compelling reasons for change.

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