Make better decisions to be more responsive

N°182b – Synopsis (8p.) – Decision Making
Make better decisions to be more responsive
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For a company to become more agile, managers and leaders must make decisions faster and more frequently. How to avoid negatively affecting the quality of decisions?

Organizations, leaders and managers are expected to be increasingly responsive today, for a number of well-known reasons: market liberalization, emergence of new competitors, game-changing shifts in the technological and regulatory environment, etc.

From this observation has emerged the concept of the “agile company,” an ideal type of organization capable of adapting to environmental changes in real time to rapidly counter threats or be the first to seize opportunities. According to a 2006 McKinsey study, nine out of ten business leaders consider agility to be a significant performance driver of growing importance.

To develop this agility, an organization must enhance its decision-making abilities. Indeed, the more the environment changes, the greater the number of decisions to be made. Not only must these decisions be taken more rapidly, but also more frequently, without losing their relevance.

Most of what is written on decision making focuses on the quality of decisions, such as how to make the best possible choices in light of available or accessible information. These publications generally conclude that companies must devote more effort to decision making, e.g., collect more information, involve more people in discussions, consider a wider range of scenarios, increase the number of studied options, etc. These recommendations are supported by the observation that an impressive number of observed missteps could have been avoided with a ridiculously small effort given the high stakes involved.

Yet, practically speaking, how can businesses reconcile the imperative to make better decisions with the constant pressure to make them more quickly? The selected publications suggest that the key is a combination of discipline and pragmatism. Some matters certainly deserve discussion, but not everything should be discussed with everyone, and not in just any manner. Time should be set aside for thinking, but on the right topics. Decision-making should be decentralized, but only after roles have been clearly specified, etc.

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