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management and leadership, decision-making |

3 Min Read

Is Your Decision-Making Style Working for You?

Karina Mangu-Ward

We’ve been talking about decision-making a lot lately at August, and so have our clients. 

My hunch is that remote working during COVID-19 is shining a spotlight on just how draining dysfunctional decision-making can be. No one’s happy when another Zoom drops on the calendar to re-litigate a decision we thought we made 3 weeks ago. 

 

SIMPLE PRACTICES CAN HELP

At August, one of our trademarks is crafting deceptively simple practices to help organizations get better at deciding. My teammates have written about Consent and Advice, two decision-making methods that can help organizations move faster while still being smart and inclusive, even in a remote environment. 

 

SO WHY DO I RESIST THEM?

I love these practices, but I’ll admit, sometimes they make me uncomfortable. They don’t always match my preferred style of decision-making. I’m very methodical, so Consent can feel rushed to me. And I’m a perfectionist, so I tend to gather lots of Advice until I feel relatively confident that I’ve found the best path that pleases everyone. 

In short, left to my own devices, I would move slowly and aim for Consensus. 

Even though I know Consent and Advice decision-making works, they don’t always feel good. 

 

FOUR DECISION-MAKING STYLES

This article by HBR gave me some insights on why I might be struggling.

Researchers found that you could sort people into four decision-making styles, based on how you tend to use information (a lot or a little) and formulate solutions (as a single right solution or as multiple possible pathways).

Here’s my adapted version of the styles (I didn’t love their titles).  

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I immediately saw myself in this framework. I love reams of data (what they call a “maximizer” as opposed to a “satisficers”) and I feel most comfortable committing to a single solution, not pursuing multiple paths. 

The problem is, there aren’t always reams of data available. Or it would take too long to gather and process that much information. Or there isn’t a right answer, despite my endless research. Too often, by the time I’ve agonized and made a decision, it’s too late, or wrong. 

 

WHY CHOOSING A DECISION-MAKING METHOD MATTERS MORE THAN STYLE

Knowing my default decision-making style is helpful, but it’s even more helpful to put it aside when it’s getting in the way. 

I’m trying to reframe the issue and shift my mindset: 

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In the few situations where we actually have lots of time and data, and it’s possible to get to a “right” answer, then we can be more analytical. But, if the solution is less predictable we need to consider more options and try more ideas.

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In fact, I’m finding that there are actually very few decision-making situations in my work where we have reams of data and a lot of certainty. So I’m trying to let my analytical style go. 

It isn’t easy!

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT DECISION METHOD

If you’re stuck figuring out how to make a decision, try this helpful guide. 

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If you want to learn more about decision making and methods, the August team is hosting a webinar on December 9. You can register here. We’ll also be adding more decision-making webinars and events in 2021 so check back at aug.co/events.

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