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Making Better Decisions



ISM's 88th Annual International Supply Management Conference

Nashville, TN
May 2003

Author(s):

Roberta J. Duffy

Preston J. Levitt, Ph.D., JD, C.P.M.

At one of the Sunday sessions at ISM's 88th Annual International Supply Management Conference in Nashville, attorney Preston Levitt offered some words of wisdom about making better decisions. Many of these decision strategies can be applied to both professional and personal situations.

  • It is often more important to be decisive than it is to be right.
  • Decisiveness inspired support in addition to intimidating the opposition. Levitt says this can be particularly true in supply management because the function is constantly having to "sell" itself to others in the company. One way to win support form executives and other units is to inspire confidence through decisiveness.
  • A not-so-great decision made quickly can have better results than a good decision made slowly.
  • Movement in any direction can bring a new perspective that makes the right decision obvious.
  • Eighty percent of business decisions should be made on the spot; 15 percent need time to mature; and 5 percent need not be made at all.
  • Decisionmaking success can be increased if we stop trying to solve today's problem with yesterday's solution. Levitt says this tip often comes into play when you hear someone justify a decision with, "because that's the way we've always done it." He encourages open-minded thinking to stretch your mind with new To improve decisionmaking, seek information from individuals affected by the decision.
  • Decisions will never work if employees fail to get behind them. And decisions will never work if employees sabotage your efforts.
  • Force yourself to listen to opposing views.
  • Share the reasoning behind the decision with those affected by it.
  • Every decision is a risk and that means you might fail. If you're not failing occasionally, you're not taking enough risks.
  • Most decisions are not only adjustable but also revocable.
  • Get comfortable with the fact that you can't know for sure.
  • Learn to respect your hunches. Intuition is not random; it's the result of accessing vast knowledge and experience in your subconscious mind.
  • People who make decisions for a living are coming to realize that in many situations, intuition beats rational analysis.
  • Much of what we call intuition is simply pattern recognition taking place at the subconscious level.
  • Everyone can hone intuition if they learn to listen to their inner voices instead of ignoring it, dismantle the obstacles that prevent you from using your gut, and take the time to put hunches into words.
  • In decisionmaking, we need to abandon hope for a better yesterday.
  • Don't waste time revisiting the pain of the past.
  • You can't erase earlier mistakes, especially when considerable time has passed.
  • Learn to recognize your own personal decisionmaking biases: know whether you are more emotional or logical. Do you love details or concentrate on the big picture? Do you jump to conclusions or weight information forever?
  • Make sure you're solving the right problem; ask questions and probe the nature and scope of the problem.
  • Keep people around you who are strong enough to challenge your ideas.
  • Realize that even the best solutions may open the door to new problems.
  • Generate as many solutions as you can before you evaluate any of them
  • .
  • Make sure each idea gets a fair hearing.
  • Learn from your previous decisions.
  • You almost never have enough information to make a decision, but this leads to "paralysis of analysis," where we spend all of our time fact finding, only to discover that it's an impossible task to get all the facts.
  • In serious matters, don't make a rush decision.
  • Decisions should translate the organization's strategic plan into action. The more decisions that point in that strategic direction, the faster the organization will move ahead.
  • A decision should feel like one piece of a larger puzzle; it should not feel like the most importance piece.
  • A good decision will consider the expected as well as the unexpected.
  • If decision makers are truly exploring possibilities and options, they will disagree about many things, at least initially.
  • Once a decision has been made, it should be communicated to all those who are affected by it.
  • Remember that success in your personal and professional life reflects on your ability to make sound decisions.

By Roberta J. Duffy, editor of Inside Supply Management

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