How To Make Decisions Faster

Many aspiring leaders often worry how to make decisions quickly under pressure so let me walk you through a simple idea.

Sally and Jimmy are two recent law graduates who have just begun their career. Sally is quite decisive and has no trouble making decisions quickly, however she makes a lot of bad decisions and ends up regretting many of them. Jimmy on the other hand is a little bit slower to make a decision, which annoys a lot of people, but he never regrets any decision that he makes.

Their supervisor realises they are both bright individuals with a lot of potential to become fine lawyers, but unless they fix their decision making habits, their career will be going nowhere fast.

He calls them both in for a chat to find out what goes through their mind when making a decision.

Sally begins, “It’s pretty simple, I always go with my gut.”

Jimmy says he takes a different approach, “I try to think of all the possible outcomes in front of me and then I carefully analyse which one of them would be the best choice. But I end up stressing over which one to choose.”

“Oy vey,” exclaims the supervisor. “Sally you don’t think enough and Jimmy you think too much. Let’s fix this now!”

Survival Today Requires Strong Decision Making

Leadership guru John C Maxwell states:

Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure.

Sally and Jimmy’s might have great technical skills for their job, but their approach to decision making highlights the two most common schools of thought when it comes to making a decision. Many people tend to make decisions either by following their gut instincts or debate the answer in their head for a very long time before making a decision.

The world that we live in today requires us to make decisions faster, but to many people this means increasing the risk of making the wrong decision in haste.

There is another way to make decisions.


One Size Doesn’t Fit All

The biggest problem with Sally and Jimmy’s approach is that they are using the same decision making process with every decision they make, when there are actually three major types of decisions:

  • Unconscious Decisions – the decisions you make subconsciously, like all the micro choices you made throughout the day that put you here with me right now to have this conversation.


  • Quick Decisions – the decisions that you make where it’s a simple choice between two options, like what to eat for lunch.


  • Significant Decisions – the decisions that you make that have a significant impact on you or others, like accepting a job in another city.

When you treat all decisions the same, things can go horribly wrong.

In my enterprise training program “How to Make Better Decisions” I cover the entire spectrum of decision making tools and techniques but for now let me just give you one simple technique that will help you make better decisions faster – without regret!


Quick Decision Making Skills Requires a Framework

Whenever I need to make an important decision carefully and I don’t have much time, I ask myself three questions:

  1. What’s the worst outcome that could happen?
  2. What are the chances of that outcome happening?
  3. What can I do to mitigate the risks if that outcome happens?

This simple framework allows me to come up with a range of solutions to the choice in front of me and that gives me greater power over the decision to be made.

Let me walk you through an example.


Quick Decision Making Example

Let’s say you’re faced with a decision of taking a new job or staying in the terrible one you have now

  1. What’s the worst outcome that could happen?

The new job could be much worse than what I have now and I could really regret going from the frying pan into the fire.

  1. What are the chances of that outcome happening?

Not very high because I know the company and I’ve spoken to other employees there. They all say it’s a great company to work for so I should be ok. Plus I’m only having problems in my current job because my managers don’t value me or what I do for the company. This new company seems to value their employees much more.

  1. What can I do to mitigate the risks if that outcome happens?

If it turns out to be worse than what I’m already going through, then I’m going to leverage the extra money from my new salary to equip myself with new skills that make me more valuable in my industry. That way I can quickly find another job without having to suffer like the last five years.

Okay I’ve decided – I’m going to take the job!


Make The Best Possible Decision You Can

When you use a decision making framework like the simple one I’ve outlined above, you start to feel comfortable with your decisions because you effectively reduce the amount of emotion involved in the decision making process. By walking through a simple framework, you occupy your mind with logical solutions rather than irrational fears.

The most important thing to remember when using a decision making framework is that making a decision is not about being right or wrong. Instead it’s about making the best possible decision given the information at hand.

Using this simple idea will help you make quick decisions without thinking, which will make you a better leader.

For those of you who want to go deeper and equip yourself with solid leadership skills in decision making, check out my simple and easy-to-follow Udemy Course – How to Make Decisions Faster. Clicking on that link will get you a massive discount so you can become a fast decision maker today!

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AJ Kulatunga is a keynote speaker who inspires conversations around Disruption, The Changing World and Entrepreneurial Thinking to help Leaders navigate change. See AJ Speak