What to think about before making your move.

We all know or have met the old-style manager who’s been there, done it all, has the T-shirt AND the mug and is a great fan of making decisions based on his instincts.

That means that his decisions tend to be made on historical data rather than through measurement.


He will draw analogies between today’s problems and difficulties with those he experienced in the past.

This man can be a danger to an enterprise because he actually believes that he has seen all possible eventualities purely because he’s been in the business for a considerable length of time.

So when a new problem arises, he adopts the most appropriate solution from his past experience.

In formal management terms, this is known as ‘Decision-Making by Analogy’.

Nowadays, it is widely recognised that the best decision-making method is a systematic logical approach which actually looks at all the alternatives available and their possible consequences.

This is a complete anathema to our old experienced friend because a structured approach to decision-making removes what is known as the ‘gut’ decision.

The following is not an infallible system, but simply the best available to us at this time.

You may have already known a manager who doesn’t appear to make snap decisions and tells you “Leave it with me. I’ll come back to you.”

The steps HE will be following are the ones we should ALL be following:

  1. Setting objectives – and then asking yourself: “Are they specific and quantitative?” In other words, do they contain any numbers?. For instance “we need to hire someone” is a statement of intent but not yet an objective. However, “We will recruit a partly qualified accountant by the end of September’” is an objective. Your objective has to pass the SMART test. In other words, it has to be Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Trackable (or Time-based).
  1. After you have set the objectives, you need to evaluate For instance, do they conflict with any other of my own company’s goals? Can we justify the expense or is such a person already within the organisation or someone that we can train? Even when someone asks for a half-day holiday, there is a process to be gone through!
  1. Next comes the stage where we collect all the information we can to support the decision. Have all the questions to be answered been clearly defined?
  2. We then analyse the information and make sure that we know exactly what we are going to be looking for.
  1. Develop alternatives. Have all the other possibilities been listed? What ARE the alternatives?
  1. Have all the other alternatives been evaluated in terms of cost, time, risk and resources? In other words, if there is an alternative we must make sure that we choose the best one. Evaluate the alternatives.
  1. Communicating the decision. Have all the right people been given the right information by the right methods?
  1. Setting up the control What will be measured, how and by whom?
  1. Implementing the decision. Have specific tasks been allocated within specific timings?
  1. Evaluate the decision. Has the decision been evaluated against objectives?

If you are seeing the Decision Making Process for the first time, the 10 steps listed above will probably look very cumbersome….. but with experience, what is always in danger of having become the instinctive or gut decision will remain structured and predictable – and with that,  becomes less risky to both you and the business. Plus, you can justify and back-up your decision with facts.

You may have also seen the acronym DOME in connection with decision-making.

Diagnosis – decide what the situation is now.

Objectives – decide what is to be accomplished ( not forgetting to be SMART!).

Methods – decide how to accomplish it.

Evaluation – schedule a periodic check on progress.

The above systematic approach works well on every decision that you are likely to be called on to make, ranging from recruitment to ordering.

I recommend you try it.