Are you option starved when it comes
to making decisions? There are a lot of factors that contribute to good decisions. Problem definition, background data, situation
analysis are essential elements in decision making. However, the critical element is having a wealth
of alternative options from which to make a final decision. If you would like to improve the quality of your decisions,
develop your skill in listing exhaustive alternatives.
Do you make decisions after considering only two or three alternative options? How often are you forced to say, "If we
had only thought of such-n-such would we have made a better decision?" Increase that 'two or three' to 'at least, ten.' and
note how quickly that improves your decision making ability. Also, notice how much easier and pleasurable your decision making
The alumni of my management classes continue to thank me for improving their ability to make good quality decisions. Seldom
do these grateful persons recall the agonizing struggle they suffered when they were first introduced to our decision making
discipline. Nor do they recall the moment they first discovered decision making was simple and easy once they had ample alternative
options or solutions.
When management students submitted papers on case studies, projects, proposals, business plans, or any exercise requiring
a final decision they were required to evaluate 14 alternative solutions. We arbitrarily set the number to 14 for consistency
How many are best for you? Base your own quota on whatever is comfortable, yet challenging, or is commensurate with your
task. Your personal development is the important issue. Habits resulting from the discoveries and discipline are rewards that
remain with you for the remainder of your managerial life...
Some ways to create alternative options:
- Start your list with the mandatory but, oft overlooked, option to do nothing.
- Include whatever pops into you mind. The seemingly unrealistic, even ridiculous, ideas can always be deleted later or
they may be refined to become viable. Experts in brainstorming tell us to avoid discounting ideas as they are first presented
because that interrupts the flow of ideas. They might stimulate your sub conscious to create those great innovative solutions.
- During the follow up exercise of listing the advantages, disadvantages, possible outcomes and consequences for each alternative
new options will come to mind.
- Consider the opposite action for some alternatives.
- Include all forms of action. Example: for buy, the options are rent, sell, lease, borrow, share or contract.
- Form combinations of one or more single alternatives.
The bottom line - what's in it for you?
- A wealth of alternative options yields decision dividends by improving the quality.
- Enjoy the excitement and self esteem resulting from your creativity.
- Avoid the stress of indecision.
- You'll have an increased desire to make more and bigger decisions.
- Gain greater confidence.
- Discover that the key to working smarter is making better decisions.
- Ask yourself, "what other business activity earns more money than decision making?"
Invest in good decision making with numerous deposits of alternative options - today!