A to Z of Decision-Making Pitfalls - Take the Quiz!

Which of these decision-making pitfalls have you experienced or observed? Make a note of each one and total the count after the Z pitfall.

Analysis paralysis - People are overly cautious: decisions are made too slowly.

Bureaucracy - Processes are burdensome and there is too little authority to get much of anything done.

Cognitive biases - People are not objective and are not showing good, unbiased, judgment.

Devil’s advocate - Ideas are shot down with people saying “It won’t work because…”

Evasion - The decision makers are avoiding actually making decisions.

Flying by the seat of their pants - Decisions are made on the fly without proper analysis, exploring alternatives or considering implementation.

Groupthink - The desire for group harmony or conformity trumps accuracy and effectiveness.

Huh??? - A decision is made but no rationale for it is given.

Information hoarding - Not all the relevant data is surfaced nor all the expertise volunteered.

Justifying - A decision is already made: the process only looks for supporting evidence.

Key man bias - Someone is relied on too heavily for making all the right decisions.

Launch failure - People are stuck in one phase of the decision making process and can’t move forward.

Missing in action - Not all stakeholders are engaged at the right time or in the right way.

No or slow motion - Execution is agonizingly slow; sapping energy, enthusiasm and commitment.

Over optimism - The lack of realism is causing stress and costly mistakes.

Packed with action - The tremendous pace and excitement of the decision is overwhelming and stressful.

Questioning decisions - Decisions are challenged AFTER they are made, rather than before.

Risky Business - People fail to properly take risks and rewards into account with a decision.

Shoot the messenger - People are reticent to share unpopular opinions or information.

The wrong person decided - Decisions are made at the wrong level or by the wrong people.

Useless consensus-building - Too much time is wasted trying to get everyone to agree.

Vicious cycle - A decision is revisited after it is made.

Wrong problem - A decision is made but the wrong problem was solved.

eXecution failure - A great decision is made but is diminished through poor implementation.

You’re kidding? - A decision is made but no one knows about it.

Zero documentation - A decision is made but no one documents it, or the reasons for it.

Did we miss something? ___________________do let us know

How many did you count up?

0 to 7 8 to 15 16 to 22 23 or more
You are either in an awesome place or you haven’t been paying much attention!! Your experience has been better than most. Nice! Join the club! Most people have seen this many problems, too. Wow, you are an expert at what can go wrong! Wouldn’t it be nice to make a change?

Lots can go wrong in decision-making, and does. It’s hard enough on our own, let alone with a group! Collaborative decision-making - most of what we do in today’s organizations - also means that many people are actively involved, and that requires leadership as well as followership.

Two leadership tips

  1. When you are leading, decide how you will decide - in other words, what outcomes are you looking for - well before decision time. Why? Because there is a strong tendency to come up with decision criteria that justify a decision after it’s made. People are far more objective early on, before they get vested in a specific solution, and before emotions run high.

  2. Collaboration does not mean consensus. Just because you’ve led a collaborative process up until the point of making a decision does not mean decision-making has to be by consensus. These are two separate ideas: the first is the process of getting all the information on the table, ensuring you are solving the right problem, coming up with decision criteria, etc.; the second is the process of actually choosing between available options, i.e., of deciding. Whatever you do, however, be sure to document the decision, communicate it and celebrate it with whomever you’ve collaborated with.</p>

Two followership tips

  1. Take the initiative to see how you might add value. Unfortunately, when it’s not their decision to make, many people take a passive or passive-aggressive stance when they are invited to join in. Instead of asking questions like “Why am I here?” and “What am I supposed to do?”, be that engaged thinking partner we all want to work with and ask generative questions like “Why might I be here?” and “What are all the things I could contribute?”

  2. Don’t be the untimely challenger. People in their leadership role do need others to step up and offer honest critique and alternate perspectives. But great followers do it at the right time, i.e., before the decision is made. After a decision is made, it’s time to move on and help implement.

If it’s not life and death, it’s just life!