Often greatness starts with just an idea. The idea, when shared gains momentum. More and more people become aware of the idea and the idea gets form. Form gets substance and the substance itself grows and grows to a mighty force that can change the world.
To get from idea to action requires one very simple ingredient. Surprisingly it is not resources, it is not money and it surely is not luck – it is simple decision making.
Indecision is a powerful force that destroys good ideas. So many times people are sitting with a million ideas – but are unable to decide on how to move forward. People even go to great lengths to keep from making decisions and bring up all sorts of excuses. These excuses become so prevalent that people actually start believing them. This has led to the belief that there is a “window of opportunity” and that if you do not act in a specific timeframe that the window is lost forever. While it is surely more difficult to recover from a lost set of circumstances – there is always an opportunity to achieve a dream, to bring an idea to life and to prosper.
If you believe that there is such a basic thing as cause and effect then you have to acknowledge that the start of every cause, where it comes to changing a destiny – starts with a decision. Listen to every motivational speaker that you can find and read every book that deals with success, greatness or history and you will find that the start point is that magical point where there is a decision. The decision is the root cause, which leads to an effect, which grows.
Your decisions define you much more than other form of destiny or prediction. It may be contentious but many people believe that you can re-shape your destiny by the quality of your decisions.
There are some basic tools to make better decisions.
One of the most often used ones is to establish the pros and cons. It comes from the Latin “pro et contra” which gives the arguments for and against. One method looks at listing all the pros and all the cons and whichever list is longer wins. This encourages creativity in coming up with reasons why something should or should not be done – and often the same result can be achieved by just going with your instinct. It is a very interesting way to justify bad decisions. The benefit of this approach is that if you practice it seriously and really think through all the positive and negative aspects of a solution then you also know what to do when the negatives come across your path.
Some other decision making tools look at portfolio of options and selects the correct one through a process of choosing the the desirable or least undesirable characteristics of different solutions.
One novel approach is to flip a coin and to commit to whatever outcome it presents. The basic idea is that some decision is better than no decision and that decisions can be incorrect at least 50% of the time anyway and that as long as you are moving forward – it helps.
Experts may add perspective to a decision – but you can never outsource decision making. An expert will always fall back on the position that you are responsible for a decision and that they just give advice.
A recent book – Judgement Calls – 12 stories of big decisions and the teams that got them right (Davenport and Manville, 2012) highlights that decision are more effective when they are made in teams and that collective wisdom always achieves more than individual ego’s. They identify that collective decision-making has given better problem solving for major projects and so called unsolvable problems. Teams just achieve better decision making than individuals. By combining different perspectives the breakthrough solutions in which many tough aspects were considered was navigated.
Another source of results in bringing decision making to a more conscious level is through understanding patterns in data. By collecting and analysing information around a specific problem we can start to understand it and scientifically attempt to change the inputs to see how they change the process.
Most decision-making results in a change of behaviour and if you realise this – then it possible to change any behaviour by observing it. Any uncontrolled process will create unpredictable outcomes. If you want to change how successful you are in an activity – you first have to observe yourself in the activity, spot the problems and then start working on improving with this. It may be beneficial to ask good friends to show you when you do something that you do not want to do. This decision-making and support process creates a new path for solving the problem. By studying the problem – you get to understand it – and can defeat it.
Purpose, belief and culture are other powerful forces that get harnessed in chasing the big decisions. If there is a culture of risk taking, then you tend to take more risks. Failure is encouraged and learned from quickly and decisively. If you believe it is your destiny to achieve something – then through a process of progressive realisation – you will become closer to you goal as long as you keep going. Nothing is more powerful that invoking a collective sense of purpose and this power has been used to wage wars, achieve massive transformations in society. These are small ideas that lead to big decisions. Culture starts from the
Leaders set the stage for effective decision making in an organisation by creating the correct context for people to make decisions. Through a transfer of authority and power to make decisions, the leader creates a context. The accountability structure and drive towards a dynamic vision or purpose sets the stage in which breakthroughs start creating a new direction.
Leaders play a critical role in ensuring that the decisions that were made get implemented and followed through. This highlights that a critical aspect of decision-making is persistence to ensure that decisions are finalised.
Decisions are around you every day. If there is one skill that you can practice to get better at – that will change your life – it is decision making. Decision makers shape society and it is important to understand why you make many of these decisions and what you can do to make better decisions. When you start searching for better decision making methods it is important to realise that there is real power in collective decision making and although it may seen cumbersome – it is important to bring people together to make decisions. This both creates better decisions and builds a strong coalition of people that can defend and promote an idea.
So to move from small ideas to big decisions it seems that you need an idea, a team and persistence. With these ingredients anyone can chase the big decisions.