What can smart leaders do to avoid making decision errors that lead to business and career bloopers? You can start by reading Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath – as well as Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
Working with an executive coach can raise your level of awareness about your own thinking. It can be helpful to dissect some previous decisions and look at how they could have been improved.
Organizations can avoid decision errors by requiring leaders and managers to use checklists, while fostering a culture where people watch out for one another. Team members should be taught to guard against biases and develop a sophisticated awareness of decision-making obstacles.
Every organization is essentially a factory that manufactures judgments and decisions. It must therefore work to ensure the quality of its ‘products’ at every developmental stage, to include:
- Framing of the problem to be solved
- Collection of relevant information
- Consideration of alternative points of view
- Reflection, forecasting and pre-mortem reviews
Setting up decision processes and ensuring quality control are alternatives to conducting a postmortem review in the wake of a disaster. We truly need a better vocabulary for decision-making processes. As Kahneman writes:
Ultimately, a richer language is essential to the skill of constructive criticism. Much like medicine, the identification of judgment errors is a diagnostic task, which requires a precise vocabulary. Similarly [to diagnostic labels for diseases], labels such as ‘anchoring effects,’ ‘narrow framing’, or ‘excessive coherence’ bring together in memory everything we know about a bias, its causes, its effects, and what can be done about it.
Leaders will make better choices when they trust the decision-making process and their critics to be informed and fair, and when their decision is judged by how it was made – not only by how it turned out.
What about you in your company? How do you approach important decisions? Do you have a trusted mentor or coach who can help you broaden your perspective? Maybe we should talk?