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Better Approach and Attitude lead to Better Decisions by Brian Chernett

Brian Chernett

Brian Chernett

Do you need to be lucky to survive and to thrive?

I’m sure there are elements of luck involved, however, I believe in making your own luck and that starts with optimism. Remember the objective is always to come out of difficult times stronger and leaner and to be ready for the opportunities that will arise.
A major factor in making your own luck is in your decision making.

One of the joys of growing a business is that you can – and should -delegate the easier decisions to others. The bigger the business grows, the more and more complex the decisions are that you can delegate. The downside of this is that you are left with only the tougher decisions to make. Investment, disciplinary and dismissal and closing down unproductive areas of the business are just some of the areas where the buck is likely to stop with you as the Chief Executive. It is important to approach these areas positively and creatively and to care about the consequences of the decisions not just on the business but also on the people involved.

It is also useful to have a (semi formal) process for making decisions. Not everyone does. We all know people who make decisions instantly but sometimes regret them later and people who keep on gathering more and more facts and opinions and seemingly never decide on anything, so called ‘analysis-paralysis’. Gut feel is important and works – providing you have these three stages in place.

  • The first — and most important — is to frame the right question. Unless you know what you have to decide, you are unlikely to make a good decision.
  • Stage two is research and consultation. It is here that many people make mistakes, either by skimping or by over elaborating. Either extreme can have unexpected consequences. You could think of the decision as a chasm between two solid pieces of land – your starting point and your hoped-for destination. There is a drop between the two points which may be shallow or deep. The difference between the two points is the gap of knowledge and information that needs to be bridged whilst the drop represents the risk if the gap is not properly negotiated.
    If you can bridge the chasm completely, the decision should probably have been made elsewhere and not have come to you. Your role as Chief Executive is to work with decisions where the bridge does not fully span the chasm — that is there are still unknowns – and where there is a drop if the remaining gap is not properly cleared – that is there is risk if the decision is not right.
  • Finally, there is a point at which you need to take a decision. The bigger the gap and the deeper the drop, the more risky the decision but potentially the more rewarding the result. Your competitors may be prepared to take bigger decisions than you and if they come off they will take a lead. The big question is, do you continue as you are and trust in their decisions failing or take a positive leap of your own into a better future?

There is a very important fourth stage to this process. Having made the decision, it must be acted upon and it must be monitored. For some decision makers, the hardest part of this process is in taking the first steps towards its implementation and selling the decision to those who are affected by it. This is where enthusiasm is needed to sell the benefits of the decision whilst handling the downsides with care and consideration. Bringing your team along with you will be more successful than confrontation.

Then monitor the impact of the decision. Visualise how things will be when the decision has been taken and the consequences play out as you intend. If you have that clear an understanding of how the business should be performing when the decision is having a positive impact, then you will be able to notice when this is not the case and make the necessary changes, including reversing the decision if necessary, for the good of the business.

With practice, you can move through this process very quickly and make much quicker reasoned decisions that have the desired results. I’m sure you can make much better use of the time you currently spend making, or repairing the consequences of, decisions.

Remember, when you are faced with seemingly wall-to-wall difficult or intractable problems, that this is the result of your own personal success and represents the challenge that you sought. You owe it to yourself and to your team to make good decisions – decisions made with care, compassion and love.

Brian Chernett is founder of The Academy for Chief Executives (ACE) – He has 43 years’ experience as managing director of private and public companies, including subsidiaries of Booker Bros McConnell, the Landmark Group, and several other major companies. Find out more at
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