You arrive at work and open your task organizer. There is your list of tasks, rather, your list of decisions. And they will only disappear after you decide on which one to begin, which ones you must delegate, how long it takes for accomplish them… Your instinct may take you to repeat an old strategy, but appealing to the known to make your decisions can be more risky than trying to innovate. So, more than manage the probable, you should know to manage the possible. That’s what our unpredictable world demands from us. Your first step to make better decisions and fight anxiety is to cultivate some new habits. Here are they:
1. Ask different questions
If you used to narrow down your problems to find a solution ASAP, this simplifies the severity of the problem and limit the number and efficiency of solutions. Some new questions will help you to make better decisions:
- Am I predicting delays I may have?
If not, you can re-estimate the time required to execute it and warn anyone who might be affected.
- Am I dismissing or denying a solution too quickly?
Just in case, better to allow another team member to tell you what he/she would do.
- What happens if I change one of my main assumptions about the problem?
Since you let your decision commented in the management tool, the intellectual capital of the company will be preserved.
Case: A U.S. government agency struggling with ever-shrinking resources and ever-increasing demands had asked two questions for years: “How will we get enough money to meet the demands?” and “Which services can we cut to stay within our budget?” The senior team, tired of running in circles, explored a new idea: “How can we share our workload with others so that our current financing becomes sufficient without cutting back on services?” This new question significantly widened the available possibilities, and the organization set out to conduct a long series of small-scale experiments with businesses, other government departments, and community members to keep the same level of service for far less money.
2. Take multiple perspectives
If no one can predict when or where the next great idea will come from, you can start by rejecting your tendency to believe that the information you have is all you need. Diversity might create more disagreement and short-term conflict, but in an uncertain environment, a more expansive set of solutions is desirable. For that:
- Take the perspective of someone who frustrates or irritates us. What might that person have to teach us? Managing someone you’re not a fan of or working with that person for a while tends to make you closer and promote new ideas, stimulating more than mutual respect, team’s creativity.
- Seek out the opinions of people beyond our comfort zone. The perspectives of younger people, more junior staff, and dissatisfied customers can be insightful and surprising. Use the company’s management tool to ask for suggestions, and communicate your decisions.
- Whether in person or on task organizer, listen to what other people have to say. We should not try to convince them to change their conclusions; we should listen to learn. If we can understand their perspectives, we might even find that our own conclusions change.
Case: New perspectives often arise from unexpected sources. At a large consumer-goods organization that prided itself on its customer-centric approach, the leadership team rightly asserted that it understood the perspectives of its diverse customer base and key suppliers. The team was asked whether any group—anywhere at all—“just wasn’t getting it.” Rueful laughter followed; of course there was such a group: a set of consumers written off some time ago and now never considered. Taking a new approach, the leaders probed that group’s perspectives, not to win over these consumers or to sell them something but to learn from them. The leaders discovered the possibility of a whole new product line that slipped easily into the company’s supply chain but hadn’t been on the horizon previously.
3. See systems
We’ve been trained to follow our natural inclination to examine the component parts. We assume a straightforward and linear connection between cause and effect. For you to understand a system, you should resist this impulse to break the problems to solve them.
- We shouldn’t waste time arguing about the best solution; instead, we can pick several good but different solutions and experiment them.
- We can give up the hunt for the root cause looking to the edges of an issue for our experiments. The system’s center is most resistant to change, but tinkering at the periphery can deliver outsized returns.
Case: One executive, concerned about the high turnover of call center professionals in his company, looked at the edges of the issue in his district and noticed that many skilled people outside the workforce care for their children or sick parents. He experimented with ways to bring these people into his call center in a flexible way: working from home, setting their own shift lengths and hours, and managing their own performance targets. After 12 months of the new system, when the call-center staff had been ramped up to more than 200 employees, upward of 90% of them felt engaged with their work. Turnover fell to under 10 percent a year. Looking at the whole system and experimenting with (and learning from) different approaches helped the executive to solve a number of related problems: turnover, customer satisfaction, local unemployment, and even rates of depression among people who provide care for family members.
Making better decisions requires a visionary mindset. In short, it requires you to analyze the various sides of an issue, listen to your team and outsiders, and align the desires of your audience with your business expectations. And one of the timeless expectations of a company formed by teams that deal with several clients is to maintain their productivity and satisfaction high. Try a task organizer software, adopted by more than 100,000 companies in the world, able to do this. Try Runrun.it for free: http://runrun.it