The why of a decision

As a a manager no one will ever agree with every decision you make. Not the people you manage, and not the people that manage you. But if you always know why you made a decision and you can articulate that decision, then you’ll be on a good footing when someone asks you, “How did you know to do that?” or “How did you know to make that decision?”

One of the best lessons I learned from my boss LB is that the decision is less important than the why of the decision. Make no mistake, bad decisions are bad decisions, but they are much less likely to be made if you know why you made it.

Once I was able to internalize that lesson, it freed me to actually make decisions.

When faced with a decision, I tend to ask these questions:

  1. What do I know?
  2. How do I know it (i.e. how confident am I in the information I know)?
  3. What do I gain by waiting for more information?
  4. What’s the worst that happens if I make the wrong decision?
  5. What’s the worst that happens if I make no decision now?
  6. Who can I talk to about this decision?

Having answers to these questions doesn’t guarantee that my decision will be right, but it does help me to understand why I’m making the decision that I’m making. It will also help me to explain the decision later on if needed.

One of the things I try to tell the people I work with is this:

The decision itself is less important than why you made the decision. If you don’t know why you made a decision, then you shouldn’t be making the decision yet.”

Know why you made a decision and you’ll be better equipped to make the decision.