The big decision faced by the Scottish dominates the news at the moment; as the outcome of the impending referendum currently appears too close to call. The answer each individual has to give might just a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but the complexity of the decision making process makes it far from black and white.
The basis of any good decision is the depth and breadth of the information available. In this instance it is not for lack of relevant information and advice, but because of all of the unknowns. Politicians are scurrying around making firm ‘promises’ regarding Scotland’s future, but they can’t escape the key factor: the future is certainly unknown. Therefore making a decision seems risky.
Complex decision making, full of unknowns, is prevalent in the business world. It is accepted that often there is no ‘right’ answer. However, business leaders recognise that with uncertainty also comes opportunity and, for Scotland, whichever way the vote goes, change is now inevitable. The issues that are the most important to the electorate have been shaken to the surface and won’t be allowed to continue on in the same ‘old’ ways.
So that’s a good thing – surely?! To sweep away the old cobwebs and refresh; to identify the critical issues and review better or different ways to address them; to regularly adjust the direction.
We know that businesses that constantly review and adapt are more likely to succeed. Armed with rich information and strong diagnostics, a good leader will encourage flexible thinking and scenario planning throughout their business. This is all about seeing things differently, trying new ways, and looking at things from a different perspective. My360plus encourages businesses to challenge the ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ mentality. The ability to acknowledge alternatives is a vital leadership skill, proven to increase performance, and that is why it is one of the key high performance behaviours that my360plus rates and coaches.
The Scottish people have been discussing the pros and cons of Independence or Union for the best part of 300 years. They are a well informed electorate. Whatever the result on 18th September, Scotland will move forward with a clearer, cleaner vision, with a more engaged population. This can only be positive.
How do we get our heads around all that is going on around us, so we can create powerful ideas, solve problems and make decisions? Effective decision making involves three high performance leadership behaviours: ‘information search’, ‘idea creation’ and ‘flexible thinking’.
These are the ten key steps involved:
- Clearly define the situation or goal.
- Create a value for research and knowledge gathering throughout your team.
- Collect as much information as possible from a board range of sources, from both ‘within’ and ‘outside’ of the situation to get a wide rich viewpoint of what’s going on. Governmental regulations, legal developments, market conditions, economic factors, market research and technological developments can all affect the situation.
- Form ideas and judgements from the information available. Link in the information from the wider environment to make better sense of the situation. Don’t get bogged down by the details – look at the ‘whole’.
- Involve others to encourage the generation of ideas. Brainstorm all alternatives. Entertain all ideas at this stage.
- Consider at least two viable solutions or options. Hold options in ‘parallel’ not ‘in series’.
- Compare the pros and cons of all solutions simultaneously.
- Consider the consequences and impact of each option. Who does it impact? Is it achievable? Are the timescales realistic?
- Based on your analysis, choose the best possible option, form an action plan and implement your decision. Be specific and set measurable targets.
- Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Always have a backup plan. Implement a process for continuous review so, if new information arises, you are ready to revise and adapt.