“We need to wait until we have all the facts …” is something I hear many managers and supervisors say. It’s often in response to an issue that needs to be dealt with or an unexpected problem that has occurred. Usually the situation is a difficult one and because the manager has no prior experience with making decisions in an identical or similar scenario, s/he is stalling for time. The unfortunate reality of course is that if you wait for all the facts, you might be waiting for a really (really) long time; perhaps even an eternity.
When it comes to making decisions, you will never have all the facts
Leadership is about making decisions – it’s inherent in the role of a leader. The reality is that there are very few instances in which leaders will have complete information … ever. Whether it is predicting customer behaviour, forecasting sales volumes, expecting employees to act in certain ways, or anticipating your competitors’ activities, you will simply never have all the facts. Which means that the real question is never whether or not you have all the facts, but rather “Do I have enough information with which to make a thoughtful and considered decision?”
If the answer to this question is “No”, then the next question is “What do I need to know? What fact do I need to obtain in order to make the decision?” And if you can’t answer this last question, then you’re not actually waiting until you have all the facts, you’re just stalling for time, or even worse, until the decision is made for you.
Well, what do you think? Do you agree? Or disagree? It is well-known amongst my peers that I have a bias for action versus contemplation, but I’m open to hearing your perspective? Please add your comments below.
I frequently blog on tips and strategies for making decisions. Here are links to some of my past posts on this topic:
- The tale of the Vasa
- Making risky decisions: a simplified approach
- Determining what information you’re missing will improve your decision-making