During his 1933 inauguration speech, US President Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
The President was referring to the debilitating effect doubt and fear have upon our ability to move forward.
We mistakenly believe it’s easier to keep safe by doing nothing. To protect ourselves, we run away from decisions.
Sometimes fear can be a rational reaction to a past lived experience, but often it is a response derived from our concern the worst possible outcome will come true.
Fear paralyses us, and, consequently, risk avoidance regularly takes precedence over proper risk management.
But the critical question is, what are we really worried about?
Multiple obstacles frequently get in the way of an effective decision process, particularly in team-based environments.
Whether it’s a personal bias, incorrect inputs, internal politics, concern about causing offence or even losing one’s job, these classic ingredients for gridlock slow down our capacity to decide and elevate our desire to avoid making decisions.
The solution doesn’t lie in simply making any decision regardless of the cost. Indeed, it is possible that sometimes doing nothing is the right decision, so long as we actually go through the process of deciding that the best course of action is to maintain the status quo.
What matters is finding a way to make decisions via a process that accommodates all these elements in a requisite way.
At Catalyze, we assist organisations with complex decisions by following what is known as the P5 Decision Framework which consists of five phases; Planning, Preparing, Prioritising, Packaging and Presenting.
This purposefully designed approach to decision-making results in a clear prioritisation of options and allows managers to identify where they should invest or place their attention.
Moreover, the P5 Decision Framework greatly reduces the risk that distractions will prevent a decision process from moving forward.
For instance, we tend to think of significant business decisions as ‘all or nothing’ approaches. When we objectively establish the most critical options against agreed criteria, we often discover the big grand decision isn’t that at all. We may find that we can reach our overall objective by addressing one small priority area. In this example, a ‘new option’ emerges, which would not be apparent in an unstructured process where a binary ‘all or nothing’ is the aim.
In addition, the P5 Decision Framework has other significant advantages, including:
- Managing the bias of decision-makers
- Creating good decision-making habits
- Creating a shared ownership and responsibility to move forward
- Preventing roadblocks from being added through ‘process-design-on-the-run’ because the core process components are already agreed
- Reducing the concerns of individual decision-makers through greater transparency and participation opportunities
- Ensuring the end decision isn’t the result of an emotional power struggle.
So, what happens when decision-makers leave their fears at the door?
And not far from opportunity is optimism. Getting into the excellent habit of facing and confidently making decisions shifts our mindset beyond the glass half empty and toward a world of possibility.