How to Make Better Decisions More Quickly

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My phone kept ringing. I was getting a flood of notifications and the news kept giving mixed reports. March 2020 wasn’t just a frenzy, it was absolute chaos. But I don’t need to remind you of this fact – it’s hard not to remember those early days of the pandemic.

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At the time, no one seemed to know what was going on. There are no “founder’s guidelines” on what to do when an unprecedented pandemic hits. In times like these, it’s just you and your choices.

Colleagues were scrambling to hold Zoom meetings and restructure their organizations due to the new economic uncertainty. And we all had to answer the biggest question of all: What’s going to happen?

In their enlightening story for harvard business review, contributors David J. Snowden and Mary E Boone note that “Working in unfamiliar environments can help leaders and experts approach decision-making more creatively”.

As CEO of my company, Jotform, there were no easy answers, but I knew it was up to me to remain a stable port for my team. We will need to work together to develop new coping mechanisms. And it was also up to me to come up with a variety of decisions. It meant I had to leave my comfort zone and find a whole new way to lead.

Why leaders need to choose the right framework for decision making

When environments are unfamiliar and difficult, we should not rely on our old ways. Instead, we must learn to identify the signals indicating when a change of direction is necessary.

For example, I know many co-workers who were paralyzed when the pandemic hit. It took them a long time to change the way they made their decisions, which meant their teams were caught in that limbo as well.

It’s the essence of being a leader: people expect you to be reassured and guided. We must be ultra-clear about our communication and our decisions.

Researchers Snowden and Boone have identified several decision-making frameworks. However, I would like to share some of the strategies that worked for me during the upheaval of 2020 and have continued to help me navigate the following years until now.

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1. Learn to make quick decisions

Entrepreneur Contributor Sanchita Dash writes that “one of the most important traits of being an entrepreneur is being able to make quick decisions that, more often than not, decide the fate of your business.” She wrote it in 2018, when this practice was not as essential as it has become today.

A quick approach not only ensures that you won’t get stuck, but it also ensures that your employees feel a greater sense of psychological safety, which will affect your organization’s morale and productivity in the long run.

Many articles explain why we need to slow down to make the wisest decisions in times of crisis, but I think leaders also need to develop their agility. Of course, that doesn’t mean going into stressful overdrive thinking you need to quickly fix every problem that pops up. You will only make yourself sick and exhausted.

I’m generally a big proponent of slow and steady growth as a business – it’s one of the main pillars of my business. But when it comes to decision-making, I agree with Polash Ventures founder Lalit Upadhyay. “As an entrepreneur, you need to make decisions quickly because the active time frame for a current decision will be very short,” he told Dash. “The outcome of the decision we made will show whether it was a quality decision or not.”

Moreover, he asserts that “the entrepreneurial journey is about making the right decisions with confidence and positivity, firmly at the right time, one after the other.”

Related: Want to be more memorable to people? Ask yourself this one thing.

2. In times of crisis, avoid micromanagement at all costs

Lately, I’ve written a lot about the importance of reducing your organization’s tight deadlines. Why? Because people who feel the pressure to produce won’t do their best work. In the case of my forms building business, I have developed a leadership framework that is about avoiding any kind of micromanagement. He has no place here.

This was especially vital to cut in 2020 when the world stopped. Suddenly, every employee was forced to juggle work and family responsibilities like never before – and flexibility wasn’t just an attractive option, it was mandatory. We couldn’t require our teams to complete a project by the same means they had used in the past.

Earlier this year, Ivan Popov explained why leaders need to stop micromanaging their teams and learn to let go. “Employees around the world work in an ever-changing work environment,” he wrote for Entrepreneur. “While leaders and managers should focus on ways to improve their team’s overall work experience, they shouldn’t forget to improve their leadership strategies either.”

Considering the above, your decision-making framework should not only be about your bottom line, but also lead to a smoother workflow and a more dynamic culture.

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3. Don’t try to find all the right answers — just act

This one is especially tricky for perfectionists who believe they can burn the candle at both ends by finding the right solution to every problem.

As someone struggling with this trend, I’m here to tell you that the adage is true when it says “done is better than perfect”.

Snowden and Boone note that the pandemic requires decisive action, but that good leadership “also requires openness to change at the individual level.”

They add, “Truly competent leaders will know not only how to identify the context in which they are working at any given time, but also how to change their behavior and decisions to match that context.”

I humbly attribute my ability to navigate this crisis with a dose of confidence and grace to my agility as a leader.

Related: How to Use Mental Models to Make Better Decisions Faster