Decision Deadfalls (part 3 of 3)

Managing Self

By Tom Davidson

It’s understandable for managers to make snap decisions and true that they are sometimes absolutely necessary, but not good to make them a habit. See why:

Managers have enough pitfalls, mistakes and dead ends to avoid in their daily work that they don’t need to fall into the most common decision-making traps, which I call “decision deadfalls.” 

Here are three of the deadly decision deadfalls that await all managers but especially those who are inexperienced, unaware, naïve or unduly rushed: 

– Good Decisions – Just because a decision gets bad results, doesn’t mean it was a bad decision.

– Group Decisions – It’s a common error to assume that group decisions are most likely to be good decisions.

– Snap Decisions – Because of the sheer number of decisions you’ll have to make as a manager, you’ll sometimes have to make snap decisions you’ll live to regret.

Today’s blog post is about “snap decisions,” while the others were discussed in the previous two blog postings. 

Snap Decisions 
As the saying goes, “Measure twice, cut once,” an old rule for carpenters that easily applies to managers and to the third decision-making deadfall, “snap decisions.” 

A snap decision is one made in a hurry, often using gut instinct and frequently under the pressure of time. While it’s understandable for managers to make snap decisions and true that they are sometimes absolutely necessary, it’s false economy to make them a habit. 

Here’s why: 
– Even though some situations appear – on the surface – to resemble previous circumstances, which lead managers to think they have the answer at their fingertips, no two management situations are the same.

– Even though the pressure of time is real for most contemporary managers, there is always time for a few minutes of forethought when the manager can consider the options, weigh the pros and cons, and predict downstream consequences.

– Even though other people can exert pressure on managers to rush their decisions, only the well-informed leader can know what his or her priorities are at every moment.

In his book, Blink!, Malcolm Gladwell outlines a decision-making principle called, “thin slicing,” which is the practice of taking small samples of information and using them to inform one’s swift judgment. The gist of this (as is applies to managers), is that managers might truly be able to make high-quality “snap decisions,” but only if they have deep experience with the particular situation or issue at hand. If they don’t, then thin slicing and snap decisions can be a recipe for disaster.  

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