The secret to making better decisions

One minute briefing: Funding XChange's Katrin Herrling channels her inner mentors when making tough calls.

by Stephen Jones
Last Updated: 22 Sep 2020

Chief executives, like the robots in an Amazon warehouse, are expected to make decisions often, rapidly and without mistakes. Needless to say, this isn’t an attainable or especially desirable ideal. When the heat is on, it’s easy to become absorbed in the moment and jump to conclusions, without taking a second to step back from the situation.

Katrin Herrling, CEO and co-founder of alternative finance platform Funding Xchange, is no stranger to making quick calls. The former Bain consultant now helps over 35,000 small businesses a year get access to finance. She says that listening to other perspectives is vital to good decision making, even if there is no one else in the room.


"I listen to four or five voices in my head when I make any big decision. These are people I’ve met throughout my career whom I respect because of their moral compass, their pragmatism or the insights they provide. When I have a really difficult choice to make I try to borrow their perspective and look at it from their point of view.

Somebody might ask me ‘Why don’t you just go and speak to them in person?’, but it’s not always possible. When you're running a business you're making a million decisions a day and some of them really matter. The chairman of my board lives in Shanghai - so it's not like I can pick up the phone and speak to him all the time.

For me it's more like a proxy that I use to keep myself in check. It's about understanding what you're not good at and using these ‘voices’ as guides to balance you out. It helps me find a different perspective to my own thought process and hopefully make more balanced and ultimately better decisions."

Key takeaways

-- Don’t make snap judgements. When it’s really important, take your time if at all possible.

-- Ask for advice. Seek diverse perspectives from people you respect – even if you have to get creative.

For more information

This article explores the "red flags and safeguards" approach to avoiding bad decisions, while this feature discusses whether good decision-making is based on instinct or rational analysis.

Is there a particular challenge or business topic you'd like us to explore? Email me at Stephen.Jones@haymarket.com

Image credit: Pixabay/Pexels

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