Critical Thinking in Decision Making

Do you know the elements of good decision making?

Good leaders make good decisions. If a leader is charismatic and can get people to do what they want, that’s good. Getting them to do what is needed to get good results? That’s great!

It isn’t enough to know how to motivate people if what you are motivating them to do is counterproductive and stupid. All you will have done is wasted people’s time, energy and money fixing a problem that either doesn’t exist or not fixing a problem that does.  As my father always said, that’s not too B R I T E!

A good leader makes sure that what they are asking people to do will yield the desired results and not waste anyone’s time with pointless busywork.

Here are the elements of good decision making.

1) Understanding the problem that needs to be solved. The amount of time wasted on what I like to call proxy problems is astonishing. I’ve seen leaders just spin everyone’s wheels on problems that aren’t really problems. In order to make sure you don’t waste time solving problems that aren’t really important or critical to your success, you HAVE to think critically and ask the question – WHY AM I WORKING ON THIS?

2) Knowing what will actually work to solve your actual problem. Assuming you know the problem you want to solve AND that the problem is a real problem that’s actually worth solving, you now need a solution that will actually work to solve it. Again ... critical thinking will help here. Consider all your options and use critical thinking to evaluate those options to choose the one that is most likely to help you succeed. Fail to do this step, usually means failure.

3) Plan for problems. Knowing what is going to cause you problems before you start a project is a good way to not fail.  Hoping for the best isn’t a strategy. Considering what all could go wrong and having a plan for how to avoid or deal with those things happening is a strategy. All this step takes is a little bit of time thinking! I know it’s hard, do it anyway.

4) Be open to being wrong. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we make mistakes. We analyze. We consider, we plan and then, things still don’t work out because there was something we didn’t know we needed to know before we started. When this happens to a good leader, they regroup, reconsider and adjust their plans accordingly. Usually all that’s required is a slight tweak. Don’t force your team to trudge on when it’s obvious what you are doing isn’t working. Nothing kills respect for a manager like sending a team on a pointless death march.

If these 4 critical thinking skills are new to you, consider taking my personal development program – Planning for Personal Success. While the course is for personal development, it does cover how to make good decisions so you give yourself the best change at success.

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