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How to make better decisions faster

A typical person makes about 2000 decisions every waking hour, from minor instinctive decisions through to impactful ones with serious consequences. With the volume of the decisions we are making every day, in and out of the workplace, it’s understandable that not all of them are easy to make and not all of them will always be good decisions.

Successful leaders help their people to make better decisions faster through building on their strengths and creating a workplace in which smart decisions are encouraged and respected. An environment where people question each other’s decisions can create mistrust, lower confidence and slow the business down. On the other hand, delegating more responsibility for decision making increases productivity, engagement and morale – all of these positively impact the organisational culture. According to a Gallup study of 143 CEOs from the Inc. 500 list, companies run by executives who effectively delegate authority grow faster, generate more revenue and create more jobs.

Using best practices for good decisions

Leaders are faced with making crucial decisions, often in uncertain conditions, that affect countless people, organisations and industries. Research on decision making shows that our brains are wired to be more reactionary under stress, meaning that leaders who feel under pressure often reach for premature conclusions rather than considering all available options.

According to a recent study of 100 managers, those who made decisions using best practices achieved their expected results 90 percent of the time, 40 percent of them exceeding expectations. Other studies suggest that effective decision-making practices increase the amount of good business decisions sixfold and cut failure rates by nearly a half.

Even though there is a great potential for using best practices for better business decisions, many businesses are not taking advantage of this approach. A study of 500 leaders have found that only 2% regularly apply best practices when making decisions and only a minority of companies have systems and tools in place to measure and improve decision making over time. Most business decisions are collaborative and made under stress, and as a result we often end up relying on our intuition and gut feeling.

The human factor

Even the most energetic leaders don’t have endless mental energy - their ability to perform mental tasks and make decisions wears off when repeatedly exerted. In some cases, persistent cognitive fatigue can result in burnout, lack of motivation and higher distractions. With the weight and volume of decisions made each day, it pays off to identify the most important decisions and prioritize the time, so they are made when our energy levels are the highest. There is a little chance that at today’s high paced environment we will be able to avoid multitasking, however when making an important decision it’s important to pay full attention and dedicate time to focus on that decision.

The quality and the speed of decision making can determine whether a business succeeds or fails. No leader can assess every decision made within the business to make sure it’s the right one, however they can implement strategies that lead to increased confidence in the quality and the pace of those decisions. At Acumen we pride ourselves in offering learning solutions that help leaders and their teams to drive success. We design and run programmes that give managers practical tools to help solve real life challenges. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at

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