Think carefully about the questions you or someone else will need to answer to make an informed decision. Write those questions down. They will be the start of a plan to help you make a timely, quality decision.
Do the research you need to do to answer the questions. Develop supporting data. The more significant the decision, the more carefully you will need to research. If the decision is irreversible, it clearly requires more consideration. If the decision is reversible but would be costly to reverse, give it more consideration. If the decision has the possibility of high impact (on members, employees, revenues, and so on), give it more consideration.
Start with internal resources. Use historical data, forecasts, and colleague review. Use outside resources as needed: the Internet, a library, and a local college can help you find facts, data, stories, and examples.
Get information that supports a rational decision while paying attention to the intuitive sense you have about the decision. That intuitive sense will be based on your experience. Your emotions will certainly influence you. Be sure to understand the extent to which they do. Don't overreact based on past experience.
Gather information methodically but quickly. Develop a plan for gathering the information. Are you the sole person responsible for making the decision? Will you need to present the information to someone else or to a committee? Will the decision be made by consensus?
The more knowledgeable you are, the more confidence you will have in the decision you make. Be open to new options, rather than automatically staying with the status quo.
Don't put off making the decision once you have sufficient information. Take a calculated risk. There is no perfect decision.
" Being comfortable with 80 percent of the information and making the decision on time is better than having 100 percent of the information and making the decision late."
—Vance Coffman, chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin