Decision-Making During a Time of Change


Ralph Masengill Jr., author of “Conquer Change and Win”

On this episode of Big Blend Radio, Ralph Masengill Jr, author of “Conquer Change & Win: An Easy-to-Read Fun Book on the Serious Subject of Change,” shares advice and strategies on decision making during a time of change.

Good decision-making is always important; we all understand that. Good decision-making during change is absolutely vital.  Make a wrong decision during a time of significant change and you may never be able to recover.  Unfortunately I have seen that phenomenon occur more than I want to talk about in my business life.  Again, decision-making is always important, during a time of change it can many times make or break the effort to change.

The change plan you are involved with will fail or succeed based on the quality of the decisions everyone makes.  Decision-making during change or any other time always involves a moral component. You must be determined to do the right thing.  You must first make a plan and then work the plan. There is a lot of decision-making necessary to accomplish both.

Why do most of us fear making decisions? Most of the decisions we make during an average day do not affect a lot of people or have serious consequences.  Mostly it is the fear of failure.

Elbert Hubbard said this many years ago: “It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”    Each person’s success or failure is determined by the quality of the decisions he or she makes.

Solid decision-making is about choices. In decision-making, you are in charge. Decision-making is choosing between available options. A set of facts might lead to several options, and your job is to choose the best one. Decision-making always causes change. One fall evening many years ago, my wife and I were in bed, and I whispered in her ear my feelings about her. She smiled and said, “When I’m eighty and I think about my life and what it was like to be young, I hope that I can remember this moment.” A few seconds later, she closed her eyes and went to sleep. I stayed awake for a while and thought about the time we had spent together and all the choices in our lives that had made this moment possible. Each choice requires some form of change. The choices you make today affect both the present and future of your life and those of the people around you. Take the time to make your choices wisely.

These choices are often taken lightly. They should not be. Mark Twain put it this way: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” We must be determined to make the very best decisions and choices possible. Making no decision is, in itself, a decision.

We make decisions regularly; the key is to choose the decision-making process rather than allow it to be made through inaction. I am often surprised to hear someone say, “I have decided not to make a decision.” Well, in fact, he or she has just made a decision. After all, what does the word “decide” mean? Don’t be fooled by those who procrastinate or those who do not have the courage to make timely decisions. They might convince themselves that no decisions were made, but we should understand that decisions were in fact made. They have chosen to let indecision make the decisions rather than take the bull by the horns and choose what the situations demand (based on the accurate data at hand). Either way, decisions have been made.

The reason we make a decision should be examined. “Am I biased toward the wrong reason?” and “Why am I leaning this way?” are questions we should ask ourselves in decision-making. All of us have a personal agenda, and we should boldly admit that truth. Your decisions should be made based on the facts and not on personal preferences. In the business world, there are few exceptions to this rule. Mark Twain demonstrates a personal agenda this way: “Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake; he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” 

In decision-making, it is important to verify the data you are basing your decision on. Always check your facts. If you are listening to several sources of advice, make sure the sources (people or groups) have the credentials to give you their opinions on the subject. One of my pet peeves is that often a decision will be made in a committee meeting based on a vote of the committee members. The number of yeas and the number of nays make the decision. This often happens in volunteer meetings or meetings serving a nonprofit.

More than likely, some of those voting do not have enough experience or knowledge to give well-founded, grounded opinions. However, their votes carry the same force and effect as votes from the members of the committee who are informed on the subject. If that happens, you do not have good decisions in most cases, if ever. For example, I would make a terrible member of a committee on women’s fashion. Be careful whom you seek advice and counsel from in decision-making. That does not mean you do not want to get advice and opinions from many. Just give weight to those people who have the knowledge and experience to give you informed advice on your subject. The loudest, squeaking wheel might not be qualified to give you an informed opinion.

That does not mean that committees should not vote when deciding issues. What is the solution, then? Make sure everyone on the committee is qualified through experience, knowledge, or both. Don’t get me wrong; we need and must have committees. The key to a great committee is always the members. Great, informed members are in direct proportion to the quality of the committee. That is common sense. Many leaders apparently have done a poor job of appointing the right members to committees. I know I have.

“Quality begets quality” and “garbage in, garbage out” are two truths we need to keep in the back of our minds. There is such a thing as a gray decision. That is a decision made by unqualified and inexperienced but well-meaning folks or those who make decisions based on offending as few people as possible. To make good decisions, have the fortitude to do what is correct—not what is popular. Gray decisions are decisions made for the wrong reasons. These gray decisions can be dangerous and detrimental to the company, non-profit, individual, and so on.

Sometimes we fear making a decision because we do not have a decision-making plan. Here’s a decision-making plan that I use: Write down your plan. Use an outline style for the steps, or perhaps you would rather use a decision tree or a graph. You could also combine any of the above styles. Use any method you prefer. The important thing is to put it on paper.

The number of people who make decisions for the wrong reasons is outrageous.  Make sure that you know what you are deciding and then make sure you make that decision for the correct reasons.  Great decisions made by great decision makers are a wonderful thing.  The problem is that this combination is as rare as hen’s teeth.  

Ralph Masengill Jr. is a best-selling author and award-winning advisor, coach, marketing expert, business consultant and public relations strategist. His latest, and ‘must-read’ book is “Conquer Change and Win: An Easy-to-Read Fun Book on the Serious Subject of Change.”


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About the Author:

Ralph Masengill Jr. is a best-selling author and award-winning advisor, coach, marketing expert, business consultant and public relations strategist. His latest, and ‘must-read’ book is “Conquer Change and Win: An Easy-to-Read Fun Book on the Serious Subject of Change.”

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