Decision making is fun and games, until it eventually isn’t anymore.
We are all told that decision making is an important part of life. Taking just any direction without decisons is not possible, in fact every move you make is the result of decisions taken.
Now have you ever encountered a situation when an important decision was endlessly deferred in your organization and everybody caught up in analysis paralysis?
Of course you have. Why is it that we find ourselves having a hard time to take a decision, even though taking no decision could easily turn out to be more severe than one that is not optimal? The reason is simple.
Taking the risk of taking a decision comes with responsibility and moreover, the way people think in most organizations still, with liability. There is a saying that the best way of avoiding doing anything wrong is by not doing anything at all.
That is why so often external help is brought in to back people up, ideally a strategy firm people know. You would think that is for the sake of finding the best possible answer, in reality you’ll find it’s just a way of outsourcing the decision making. At least the parts about liability - if anything blows up later it’s the consulting firm and thir bad advise and not you who took the responsibility for a decision.
How could we get into a de-facto standard mode of associating decision making with punishment? How come we talk about great decisions in great length but try to avoid talking about bad decisions? Would there be less to be learnt from the latter?
No, it all comes down to politics I am afraid. When appearance matters more than anything else nobody wants to have stains on their white velvet vests. Any decision taken has to be potential to be a stain.
There is only one way of dealing with this: do your due diligence, make decisions, defend them (as somebody will always argue against the decision no matter what) - but be open to revise these decisions. Be fair. Be fact based. Don’t judge too harshly as you would not be judged harshly. If you are really in a spot where a “bad” decision is not tolerable, assuming you have done your very best to turn around when things went south, you are most likely in the wrong place. Unless you actually like acting and politics - in that case there is plenty to do in the Decision Making No Mans Land.