Every day in our life we make decisions, sometimes big and other times not so significant. Each decisions changes the direction of our life, may be minutely like a fraction of a degree, but it indeed changes. Decisions are usually made because there is a problem to be solved, an issue to be addressed or it could even be a routine decision. When you reach 40 or 50 years, where you are in your life is based on all those small decisions you made throughout your life. It is not possible for anyone to make 100% right decisions, but your success in life depends on making more good decisions than bad.

This article helps you in a small way in that decision making process.

What are the steps in the decision making process when you are trying to address a problem, whether it is work related or family related.

  1. Define the Problem
  2. Define the ideal situation
  3. Analyze the gaps
  4. Brainstorming – List all possible/potential solutions
  5. Agree on practical solutions
  6. Prepare action plan with details
  7. Follow up plan.
  1. Define the problem

It is critically important that we first define the problem very clearly. If the problem is not defined properly we might start looking for the wrong solution. Biggest issue is getting emotionally involved in the results and defining the problem from an emotional perspective, such as anger, sadness, frustration, etc. Wrong diagnosis leads to wrong treatments.

Generally, people define final result as the problem. Did not achieve the budget or failed in the exam. Yes, but they are results of a Problem that you need to identify and solve. At times people define the activities as the problem. It is possible that the individual responsible for getting the results is not doing the required activities or doing those activities wrongly. It is also possible that the person is doing the activity and doing it correctly but you as the senior has recommended a wrong activity. In that case also the results could be wrong.

Therefore, it is critically important to understand the root cause of the problem and clearly define it so that one can start working on the possible solutions. Keep on asking the ‘WHY’ question until you reach the root of the problem.

  • Define the Goals and objectives or the ideal situation

Here you start with the expected results. It could be a Performance target or improvement objective such as achieving the business objectives, getting distinction in exams or get through a competitive examination. Next step is to define activities that need to be done to achieve those results.

  • Analyze the Gaps – between the goals and current situation.

Write down clearly the gaps in the expected results and actual results. If possible drill down as much as possible about the activities as well. Prepare a list of activities that must be done to achieve the results and what is actually done.

  • Brainstorming – List all possible solutions/options.

Let all stakeholders sit together and do a brainstorming discussion to list out all possible solutions and action plan to mitigate the situation. Some of the questions to ask are

  1. What do you think we must to do to get a better result?
    • What are our options?
    • What do you think we should do next?
    • What else could we do?
    • Who might be able to help?
    • What would happen if we did nothing?
    • What has worked so far? How could we do more of that?
    • What is the hardest/most challenging part of that for you?
    • Which option do you feel ready to act on?
    • What could you do differently?
    • Do you know anyone who had a similar problem and solved it?

All possible solutions should be discussed and written down without prejudice. Let no participant veto down any potential/possible solution at this stage. Get as many options as possible for each of the situations.

  • Agree to implement all Practical/essential solutions even if difficult to implement.

After the brain storming, review all listed solutions. Identify those solutions that are critical to solve the problem and to achieve the desired results, even if it is perceived to be difficult to implement. It may also be required that other stake holders may have to make amends in their way of working or make additional arrangements to get the new action plan implemented. Reject those proposals that are utopian in nature and does not make significant impact if not implemented. Simple solutions that does not require additional resources but provide incremental results must be implemented.

  • Prepare Action Plan

Preparing action plan is the next step in the process. Who will do what, when, how and how long. Write it down, circulate and get all stakeholders buy in to ensure successful implementation.

Ask the following questions

  • What would be the difficulties in implementing the plan?
  • How will it change the way you are doing things currently?
  • Will it impact others in your team, Organization, family?
  • How will you know that the plan is being implemented correctly?
  • Do you need any additional help or resources?
  • What else can you do to getter results?

Agree on a follow up plan after everyone agrees on the implementation plan. Decide what, when and how the follow up activities will be done. That could be once in a month review of the results and/or activities being done. Make changes, corrections as when required so that everyone achieves the desired results.

All the very best for achieving your best possible results.