How to Become Strategic Problem Solver and Effective Decision Maker

The Quality of Your Life is Determined by the Quality of Your Decisions

How to Become Strategic Problem Solver and Effective Decision Maker

We’re biological decision-making machines and face decisions daily. Everyone makes decisions, many of these decisions could be minute while some are tough.

But, very few admit that they’re decision makers.

Mostly, people think that those with high office and those who make high stake decisions are the only qualified decision-makers. As a result, they leave lots of golden opportunities to excel in making quality decisions on the table. They don’t proactively and intentionally work on their decision-making abilities. They leave it to chance… And we all know the handy works of CHANCE 🙂 Most of the time, not good…

Let’s be honest. Look at the successful professionals, leaders, and entrepreneurs around you, in your organizations, and communities.

Simple and straightforward. Success EQUALS effective decision-making.

You will never meet someone who is truly successful in anything significant endeavor without having sharp problem-solving abilities, which require engaging in thinking critically and strategically. The latter are mandatory requirements for making quality decisions.

The number one difference maker between those who are stumbling and failing; and advancing and succeeding is? You got it! Their competencies in solving problems and making decisions with limited info and time constraint. Otherwise, everyone can make somehow quality decisions if they are given ample time and have the resources to get quality and relevant data, and wise counsel.

If you would like to hire or partner or elect someone and the stake is high, the key factor you should consider is that person’s mentality toward challenges, resourcefulness, the approaches, and speed at which the person resolves them.

Smart hiring managers, team, and organization leaders put this one soft skill and leadership quality at the top of the list before they make hiring, partnering, and promotion decisions.

If you think about it, a leader without a superb decision-making caliber is lame! This is especially true now, more than ever, as we face constant changes and even crises on a consistent basis.

Those who have the right decisive mindset and a well-refined decision-making process make quality, timely, and right decisions that deliver results with no or minimal mistakes.

The good news is that anyone can improve their decision-making competence if they are willing to pay their dues…

To take your decision-making abilities to the next level, let me quickly share with you a simple approach you may consider when you face your next challenge.

  • Don’t rush in making decisions even if you have to make quick decisions.
  • Whatever time you have on your hands, use it to take the first and critical step.

Before you waste your (your team and organization) precious time, energy, and scarce resources, ask a simple question:

  • Am I facing a situation that can go away if I just wait, or
  • Is it a reality I should just get over it, or
  • Is it a true problem I must deal with NOW?

Only invest in it and make it a priority if the challenge is a real problem, not a decoy!

If you are interested to know the difference between issues, realities, and problems, check out the excerpt below taken from my book Overcoming 1st Timer Syndrome.

“…One of the benefits of being decisive is that you are able to promptly address problems before they cause major issues. Problem-solving and decision-making feed into one another. Problems necessitate decisions. Decisions solve problems. To solve problems quickly, you should have these three in place:

  • Differentiate problems from issues and realities,
  • Have a framework that guides your problem-solving,
  • Engage as many stakeholders as possible in seeking sustainable solutions.

Issue vs. Reality vs. Problem

Many leaders spend countless hours and invest their scarce resources in situations that aren’t inherently problematic. If you dig a little bit, a given situation could end up being one of these:

  1. An issue,
  2. A reality, or
  3. A problem.

Some situations are just issues. If you wait, they go away without you having to make any decision. There are also realities on which your decision will have no effect.

You don’t have control. But if a situation isn’t an issue or a reality, it is a problem that necessitates a decision.

A situation is just an issue if it doesn’t stop you from pursuing your goal. If you still can do your job with a bit of inconvenience, it could just be an issue that dissipates with time. Be patient. Don’t waste scarce resources such as your finances, time, or energy.

Let’s be practical. Right now, without overthinking it, list all the situations you have, both personal and at work. Then answer the following two questions:

  • Which of these situations is stopping you from pursuing your goals?
  • Over which ones do you have influence and control?

If a given situation doesn’t come between you and your team’s goals, it’s not a real problem. Unless you have some form of control and influence over a situation, you cannot fix it. It’s out of your scope, and therefore is not your problem unless, of course, you want to make it yours. If it doesn’t demand a decision, a situation isn’t yet a problem.

Once you have clarity about the true nature of problems, you should have a framework or model that you use to facilitate making decisions and solving problems on time. Most problem-solving models available today share some of the following common stages. Of course, you can customize the framework below and continuously improve it to make sure it is serving you in solving problems promptly. It is a tool, a means, not the end itself.” Overcoming 1st Timer Syndrome, Antidote 6, Making Timely Decisions, p. 130 – 132