Most decisions can be made with little or no conscious thought. Your brain is skilled at acquiring enough appropriate information to decide whether it is safe to cross the road, but is also able to manage the more complex task of driving a car and acting on multiple decisions in fractions of a second.
Decisions that occur with lower frequency or with significant consequences will take longer to get right. To decide which car to buy, you will identify information needed, acquire that information and deliberate on it to arrive at a preference.
When multiple individuals are tasked with a decision, each of these well-tuned decision makers meets others who have different mental shortcuts or heuristics.
Unless the group have worked to adopt a common decision-making process, three issues repeatedly crop up to prevent good decisions being made:
Decision by narrative power
Stories are told and re-told until all participants feel they have contributed and heard confirmation from the others. Typical examples are "we are better than the competition so we will succeed in this" or "we all saw how well this initiative worked for our competitors, we can do that too." By fitting the evidence to the story that the decision-makers want to believe, confirmation bias obstructs consideration of alternative decisions.
Decision by social power
The articulate advocate, the budget-holder or the individual with seniority can - consciously or not - move a group towards a decision. As a decision begins to emerge, nods and smiles encourage 'falling into line' too soon. In teams that are very supportive of each others, decisions that benefit one part of the business over another can be rejected in favour of spreading resources around the room.
Decision by fatigue or deadline
Decisions that have been on the agenda for a long time, and where there are perhaps genuine challenges to making an evidence-based decision and forging alignment in support, often get made when the team are simply tired of the question or a deadline, such as a budget, has come due. Decisions made when tired or in face of a deadline are as sound a roll of the dice.
The solutions to the above can include building the decision-making skills of team members, adopting and using a common decision-making framework within a company, or making extensive use of external consultants to compile evidence and present recommendations. These are time-intensive and costly, and that level of investment simply isn't justified for all companies or all decisions.
We developed Get Real to support those companies and organisations who struggled with making decisions, but without the time demands or costs of other solutions. Where you face a decision that has proved difficult or time-consuming, the Decision Jam brings your team into a well-structured process that is effective at overcoming these issues, and enables you to make the right decision fast, and bring the team with you.