Decision-Making Tactics for Uncertain Situations

By Mia Habib 

Do you ever find yourself struggling to make a decision in uncertain situations? Does the fear of failure weigh on your shoulders as you grapple with an issue you may lack understanding of? While there is no perfect equation to solving this kind of problem, there are many ways in which this stress can be alleviated. What many executives do when making decisions about unfamiliar issues is to try and build off of decisions they have made in the past. However, the problem with this is that many of those past decision-making tactics are based on solid, reliable information and data. That being said, a decision-making tactic used for reliable information may not be the best approach to solving a problem in which there isn’t reliable information or data. 

The article Deciding How to Decide” in the Harvard Business Review offers a series of ways to categorize a business’s problems in terms of the most effective ways to solve each one. In summary, the authors suggest first building a decision profile through a series of questions executives should be asking themselves regarding each problem they face. Then, the article goes on to discuss the five contexts for certain types of decision making. The contexts include conventional capital-budgeting tools, quantitative multiple scenario tools, case-based decision-making analysis, and a combination of them depending on the situation.  While it is obviously still important for the decision-makers to do what they feel is best for their specific situation regardless of what others may be suggesting to them, this article provides a strong foundation for what could be a more flexible, effective decision-making technique in the face of uncharted territory. 

George Deeb presents a different kind of foundation for effective decision-making in his articleLesson #87: The Art of Decision Making.” In the article, he focuses less on the type of solution and instead, focuses more on the attributes of a leader capable of effective decision-making. While the important attributes to be such as knowledgeable, intuitive, receptive, and nimble are all very important according to Deeb, one of the most common denominators among all who those who suggest improvements to decision-making, including Deeb in this article, seems to be flexibility. Like many things in this life, business’s can take turns and make changes that veer away from what the CEO may have thought was going to be the original path, and that is okay. Whether on a personal or business level, it is paramount that conversation and attitude around change be discussed in less of a negative tone. While yes, sometimes it is not necessary to fix something where there isn’t a problem, decision-makers should work to better themselves and their companies through embracing change without trying to revert back to old, familiar ways.

It is important to note that at the end of all of this, decisions are made at the discretion of the decision-makers whether they want to take advice or not. However, in order to advance individual and corporate growth, embracing new territory can prove to be very fruitful if given a fair shot. After all, everybody knows the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

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