At most companies, the best time to make a decision is yesterday. The problem, of course, is that making good choices takes time. If you’re having trouble fighting a corporate culture that puts a premium on speed over quality, here are a few things to keep in mind. Some might even persuade the boss to give you the extra time you need to do things right.
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If you (or your bosses) value quick decisions over good ones, you run these risks:
1. Deciding, without having all the facts on hand.
Data gathering and research require an investment of time, in part because they often require tracking down stakeholders on related projects or experts on a given issue. And good luck to you if you’re trying to get answers between Memorial Day and Labor Day, or any time from Thanksgiving until the New Year.
If you skip over this step without reaching all the involved parties — or at least the temporary replacement they’ve hopefully brought up to speed — you could find yourself making a bad choice for lack of information. That could lead to wasted time and money down the line, and the embarrassment of being forced to reverse your position.
2. Narrowing your options prematurely.
Academics and authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath recently addressed this issue in their book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. Marina Krakovsky at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business explains:
Unlike good scientists, who test hypotheses to see if they’re right, most of us tend to look for evidence that simply confirms our preconceptions. Because this “confirmation bias” leads us back to where we started, rather than toward better choices, it’s an enemy of good decision making…
3. You risk burnout.
Technology giveth and technology taketh away, especially when it comes to time management. In the olden days, you might be required to stay “on” for eight or so hours a day. Now, even if you’re allowed to go home, you’re expected to check your email and make decisions.
One common defense raised by managers when reports complain about having to check email after hours is that it’s not real work — it’s just checking in. But once you’re changing the course of a project or allocating resources in a meaningful way, you’re working.
In reality, most decisions you’re asked to make after you’ve left the office are not life or death. In that case, it makes sense to wait until the next day, when you’ll have better access to information and a clear head. If you never get a chance to stop choosing, your choices will suffer.
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