What makes a professional a good decision-maker?
Ask ten business professionals what makes someone a good decision-maker and you might receive ten different answers. When Yahoo! offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion in 2006, Mark Zuckerburg decided against the sale, famously stating that if it went through, “I’d just start another social networking site.” By 2019, Zuckerberg’s net worth was reported to be approximately $68.2 billion. Then there is the case of a young George Lucas being offered $500,000 to produce and direct Star Wars. Lucas made the decision to take a pay cut if he could have the rights to merchandise and sequels. Fox agreed, and decades later it is impossible not to see the payoff. Not every decision will be so directly linked to exceptional fortune and fame, but as a professional you need to be aware that refining this skill is integral to your success.
Whether you like it or not, decisions are affected by emotions and bias. Of course, your decisions are also guided and informed by your previous experiences and expertise. In your future career, the decisions that affect you, a company and a team, will require the balancing of many factors and necessitate an approach that is logical and systematic, yet open-minded and flexible. So how do you acquire the skills you need? When you bring your professional knowledge to an EMBA program, you will gain valuable experience and deeper insights. You will also have the opportunity to develop good habits and reliable processes that will optimize your decision-making skills.
By developing a logical, step-by-step decision-making routine and making a habit of focusing on the fundamental concerns of your situation, your skills can sharpen dramatically. Good habits that lead you through a reliable process will let you use your business expertise to its fullest capability.
We do not know if Lucas or Zuckerberg consulted others when they made the decisions that are now cited as two of the most profitable of all time. Nonetheless, getting your team involved is another reliable step to take when making decisions. This is especially true if members of your team disagree with you, even if you ultimately don’t follow their advice. Why? Your ability to argue in favour of your decision will prompt you to formalize and clarify a coherent rationale for your chosen course of action.
Furthermore, in the same way everyone has bias, everyone has blind spots. Getting out of your echo chamber, as you will during an MBA degree, will make you a stronger decision-maker. When you confront your blind spots, you are gathering more information and considering more consequences, which mean that your decisions are more informed.
According to one professional, “the best executives attend relentlessly to what they can control.” This idea points to a final guideline for becoming a master decision-maker. When you understand what you can control, you will not spend an undue amount of time making decisions. It is otherwise possible to get caught in what some call “analysis-paralysis.”
It is true that a diligent commitment to data and facts are key components of good decision-making habits. Even in the age of data, however, it is important to know the limits of what you can consider for any given decision, as well as the limits for the amount of time you can spend weighing your options. There comes a point when you will need to trust your instincts and take action. One thing is certain, pursuing further education to support your business goals is a decision you can stand behind as you grow to your full potential.
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