There’s no shortage of information available today. You can find the answer to pretty much anything and everything you want with a simple oracle–I mean, Google–search and immediately satiate your curiosity. That is, until the next bright shiny ball of curiosity begs another question to be answered and you begin chasing that bright shiny new ball. The challenge, of course, lies is navigating through the incessant influx of so many bits of information to find the right bit and make the right decision.
Peter Drucker (does he really need an intro here?) once said that “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” The balance between leadership and management is where competitive advantage lies because companies must do both to remain relevant in the volatile and uncertain world known as business–they must ensure flawless execution (i.e. doing things right) of the strategic initiatives set forth by leadership (i.e. doing the right things). Making the right decision with the right information, however, is easier said than done. Here are four ways to do so:
1. Identify what will be measured.
What gets measured gets managed (another quote by Drucker), and what gets managed has the potential to be improved. However, not all metrics are created equally, so be clear on what you want to track and why. An empty email inbox at the end of the day isn’t a sign of productivity, as firing off yet another email into cyberspace doesn’t mean that the message received will equal the message sent. Bias and interpretation can muddle up even the simplest communique, which is why follow-through and accountability reinforce the intention behind the message.
2. Monitor the internal and external environments.
It may sound counterintuitive to reducing information overload, but the more you’re aware of both internal and external initiatives, challenges and changes, the more readily you can decide and take action. Environmental awareness is critical to having a holistic understanding–one that allows you to make the right decisions efficiently and effectively. Decision making is only as effective as 1) the information available, and 2) one’s ability to interpret that data, as information informs one’s knowledge base which informs judgment which informs decisions which leads to action—to pivot or not to pivot; to adapt or remain the same. Companies today compete at the speed of adaptability yet adapt at the speed of learning, and if you aren’t learning in real time about what’s going on around you—internally (i.e. culturally, organizationally) and externally (i.e. competitive landscape)—then you receive outdated information and find yourself playing catch-up. Competition, customers and technology move too fast to fall behind the information curve.
3. Make meetings routine.
I’m not talking about the weekly update meeting that sometimes stays on course but mostly falls off topic, but rather a daily check-in that highlights the priorities for the day mapped against strategic initiatives and the lessons learned from yesterday. Doing so does three things. First, highlighting the day’s priorities corrals everybody’s attention toward what’s important. New information may have arrived at the end of yesterday, in hallway conversations or over email the night prior, so setting the stage for what needs to be focused on that day helps everybody focus on what they can affect (influence) and effect (change or control). Second, reviewing the lessons learned from yesterday builds awareness and accountability. When you share lessons learned as to what worked, what didn’t work and why, you not only heighten collective awareness as to what (not) to do but also compel accountability simply because nobody can say “I didn’t know.” Finally, hosting a brief meeting everyday builds consistency in interaction and dialogue—both of which build trust. Trust isn’t built from single, independent encounters, as research has shown. Rather, trust is built when you see consistency and alignment in one’s actions and intentions over time.
4. Aim for 70%.
With the snowball of information becoming larger by the minute, there’s really no such thing as having all the information. Set the criteria at the outset—such as a day, time, or project phase–for what you’ll need to decide and when. Aiming for the 70% solution gives you enough certainty to move forward and doesn’t stall progress by waiting for the other 30%. Plus, things change anyway, so waiting for “perfect” to arrive is an effort in futility. Don’t let analysis paralysis–the act of waiting for “right” to occur–bog you down. Make a decision and go with it.
How do you make decisions?
This article was written by Jeff Boss from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.