How to make better decisions as CEO
Perhaps there is nothing as conflicting as making a decision - especially if the decision that one needs to make is neither wrong nor right to give a moral justification.
Even the smallest of things like what time to get up in the morning or which dress to put on is not a pleasant process.
Yet decisions have to be made every day in order to make that forward step.
An unknown author once said: “Decisions are the hardest thing to make, especially when it is a choice between where you should be and where you want to be.”
So if as individuals we struggle to pick out food from a menu in a restaurant, what of chief executives and managers whose yes or no would trickle down to that dependent of their low ranking staff?
How do chief executives and managers make decisions? What guides them? How long do they think about it and let the scenarios forecast in their minds? Do they consult? Does a hunch work for them or should every decision be strategic?
A struggle at first
Brendah Mwirichia, founder and chief executive officer Peak and Dale Solutions Limited admits she used to struggle in decision making when she started her business 12 years ago.
“I would ponder, think about it, discuss it and just try to find a way to make sure what I decide will actually be right for the business,” said the techpreneur.
Peak and Dale Solutions is an award winning company which helps other businesses get or increase their presence online offerings solutions like websites, domain registration and search engine optimisation.
Mwirichia says as one goes along, they soon learn that sometimes you have the ability to make a decision on the go.
“And that is something I have become very good at the moment so I trust my instincts. I also try to make very strategic decisions that are well thought out,” she said. “But sometimes you need to make a decision there and then, so I also do that.”
For Mwirichia, she has a code on how her decisions are made.
“I have a principle. I normally say make that decision and refine it as you go along. For me that is the model I use,” she said.
Decision making on merit
For Alex Muiruri, the regional manager Dentsu Location Services (an arm of Dentsu International a global marketing agency based in Japan), decision making is purely based on merit.
“Key principle is by merit. You have to give somebody (a decision) by merit. And once you are able to do that, be transparent as to why that decision is made,” he said.
Muiruri says everybody (at Dentsu) has to have that culture of transparency and make decisions by merit.
“Those are the two foundational things we use as Dentsu and that is what I have been using for last eight or so years,” he said.
A long process
Francis Theuri, chief executive officer Automobile Association of Kenya (AA Kenya) says a decision ‘is not something you just wake up and think about it.’
It has to be guided by policies, processes and looks into what the future holds for the company.
“Over the years –and I think I have been on senior management for more than 20 years –you learn management is not just an art of being strategic or the other. I think there is a lot that goes into decision making,” he said.
In his case, he says, what guides him is the vision for the organisation. It starts with putting together a team that will work together in support of that vision.
“Consulting is very important especially in a corporate level. At a corporate level you do not just wake up and make a decision,” he said.
He adds: “When I think about what you are asking, there are those decisions that you need to make now. With time, you understand your organisation as even as you make a decision, you are guided by the knowledge and the experience that you have in that organisation.”
As such, he says, a decision is not like a hunch or something that you wake up and you choose but guided.
“When she (secretary) calls me about a certain area and she wants a decision, sometimes I do not even think about it and say ‘go ahead’. Why? In my mind I have an idea of what that means, I have an idea of what our processes are, and what is the expected outcome of that,” said Theuri. “
“Decision making is more involving than just what the decision is being made is all about,” he adds.