Crash Course in ... Making good decisions

You've woken up from a terrible nightmare. In the dream, you hired Fred Goodwin, and he bought ABN Amro without telling you.

by Alexander Garrett

It has made you think hard about the judgments being made under your roof every day. How can you be sure they are the right ones?

Frame it. The first step is to define the decision, advises Neil Russell-Jones in his Decision-Making Pocketbook. 'Most decisions go wrong because the wrong issue requiring a decision is identified - the symptoms rather than the true causes are addressed,' he says. Adds Adrian Atkinson, chair of business psychology specialists Human Factors International: 'Decisions can be stimulated by three situations: opportunity, problem resolution and crisis.' They need to be framed in terms of a well-defined problem, he says, which usually means travelling from the current clearly described situation to the desired situation.

Whose decision? 'Ask yourself: is it important to make a decision? And if I don't make the decision, will it be made by someone else?' says Atkinson. 'If your answer is yes to the first and no to the second, you either have to take the decision or delegate it.'

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