Decision Making


Posted: Jun 20, 2018

By: Nicole Laidler


3 Steps to Improving your Decision-Making Skills


We make hundreds of decisions each day. Some are as simple as what to eat for lunch. Others, like selecting a new hire, are more complicated and may have far-reaching consequences. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the number of available options. Indecisiveness can creep in, often followed by a sense of regret that we may have made the ‘wrong’ choice.

It doesn’t have to be this way, says Peter Sherriff, instructor for Western Continuing Studies’ Problem-Solving, Decision-Making & Creativity workshop.

The interactive, two-day course is designed to help everyone from business leaders to new employees strengthen their competitive edge by improving their decision-making skills.

“If you know how to make effective decisions, your organization will thrive,” Sherriff says.

Here, he offers three simple steps that can help you avoid analysis-paralysis and solve any problem with confidence.  


Establish a decision-making process

“The biggest hurdle I see is that people don’t have a process for solving problems,” says Sherriff.

Making a snap decision based on past outcomes may work well for low-risk, low-value situations. But if you’re facing a critical business decision where the stakes are high, it’s crucial to take a more strategic approach.

That means working through the pros, cons, risks, and realistic outcomes of every possible choice, says Sherriff, and establishing who – or what part of the organization – will be responsible for making the final call.

“It’s about managing risk through advanced-preparation,” he says. “If it’s an important decision, you need to take the time to make sure you get it right.”


Understand the challenge you are trying to solve

Whether we’re faced by a problem in the workplace or at home, our first instinct is to come up with a solution as quickly as possible.  

Sherriff suggests taking a step back in order to identify whether the challenge at hand is merely a symptom of a larger issue. “What is the root cause?” he asks. “So many individuals and organizations don’t really understand what problem they are trying to solve, so they rush off and make decisions about the wrong thing.”

This common decision-making pitfall can be avoided by writing a problem statement, says Sherriff.  “Once you can clearly articulate and understand what the problem is, you can start thinking about which approach or solution might apply.”   


Evaluate your outcomes

 You’ve used your decision-making process and written problem statement to solve your dilemma. Congratulations – now you can simply move on.

Not so fast, says Sherriff.

“We’re all very busy, and we make decisions every day. Some are great. Some are OK. And some are terrible,” he notes. “That’s why we need to take the time to evaluate our decisions and think about whether we made the right one.”

If your decision didn’t lead to the desired outcome it’s time to do a debriefing. “Be honest about the situation, what you learned, and ask whether you’d do the same thing again,” Sherriff suggests.

That way, if a similar situation occurs down the road you’ll be prepared to make a better choice.



Problem-Solving, Decision-Making and Creativity

Nov 26 & 27

9:00am - 4:00pm




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