Variety is the spice of life. Why have three flavors when you can choose between 31? People thrive on having the right to make their own choices – but there comes a point where you have too many choices, and your brain shuts down instead of processing the possibilities. It’s called decision paralysis, and it’s a very real condition that affects individuals both personally and professionally. Is having too many choices stopping you from making a decision? There are a few steps you can take to make it easier.
Narrow the Field
If you’ve ever tried to get a small child to make a decision, you know that listing off fifty available milkshake flavors and asking them which one they want will lead to standing in line for what seems like an eternity while you wait for them to pick one. Eventually, if you want the child to make a decision and stop holding up the line, you have to narrow the field, so you make it easy: chocolate, or peanut butter?
The same concept works when you’re attempting to narrow the decision-making process for your company. Start by narrowing the field significantly. Choosing between a dozen different options? Narrow it to three. There are a couple of different ways to accomplish this.
Work from the bottom up. There are probably a few options on the heap that are significantly less desirable than the others. Remove them immediately. Simply knowing that you have reduced the options gives your decision-making ability a break and lets you simplify the process. From there, continue eliminating. It’s often easier to eliminate bad possibilities than it is to choose the best one, because eliminating possibilities doesn’t force you to make a concrete decision–it just shrinks the pool a little bit. Once you’ve narrowed the pool down to three or four choices, it will be much easier to make a decision based on positive qualities.
Categorize your choices. What do your choices have in common? What aspects of those choices are the most important to your company at this moment in time? Categorize the choices, then choose the category that will work best for you. From there, you can narrow down the results to choose the best option.
Making a Final Decision When No One Agrees
Sometimes, you find yourself in the position of needing to come to a consensus across several decision-makers…and everyone disagrees on the end result. There are several steps to narrowing the field and finding a conclusion that works for everyone.
Have everyone list the factors that are most important to them. What is it that’s making them make a particular decision? What do they like most about their choice?
Look for common factors. It may be that you have similar priorities and are simply looking at them from a different angle.
Look back over your choices. Is there a way for both of you to be happy? Is there a choice that contains the best of the categories that were determined to be important?
Know who casts the final vote. Ultimately, someone has to be the one to make a final decision. That person might not always be popular, but you can’t sit around debating a decision forever. Nominate someone to make the final choice, preferably before you even begin the decision-making process.
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