Make Strategic Decisions by Planning for Change

Photo of 2 arrow signsWhen you work in marketing, you are bound to run into indecisive people on both the client and agency side. Why? Because uncertainty and even fear of making a mistake are powerful forces. Sometimes, we find ourselves second-guessing our decisions even after they’re made. But what is it that really makes effective decision-making so difficult? I recently attended  the American Bankers Association Marketing and Retail Conference, where Kathy Pearson, Founder and President of Enterprise Learning Solutions, answered this question and provided insight on how to re-evaluate your decision-making process.

Many decisions, especially in marketing, are affected by outside factors beyond our control. According to Pearson, by planning for the key trends in your industry, you are taking a forward-thinking approach by acknowledging outside influences.

She also said that you could plan for uncertainty by recognizing that change will occur and realizing that it’s impossible to have all of the data. Acknowledging this uncertainty, but also planning for it will help with the decision-making process. Many people are unwilling to make a decision with any level of uncertainty; with this approach, it’s okay.

There are ways you can make sure that you have most of the information you need. Pearson recommends testing things and treating your decision-making like an experiment by:

  • Clarifying the issue. Know what it is you are solving and who or what it affects.
  • Gathering information. Use surveys, interviews, etc. to get the answers you need to make your decision.
  • Making the decision. Sit down with your team to consider your options and their potential outcomes. Use research and logic to narrow them down. Don’t worry if this takes time. You may have regrets later if you don’t take some time to think.
  • Developing and evaluating alternatives. Because there can still be uncertainty and mistakes may be made, it is best to have a back-up plan in case of a negative outcome.
  • Executing the final decision. Make sure that your plan is clear so that your team knows their responsibilities and things are done in a timely manner.

Too often, I see organizations frozen with indecision because of their uncertainty. By presenting a plan with all of the variables, you can dispel any concerns that your coworkers, your clients, even your boss, might have. It’s okay to acknowledge that you don’t know everything as long as you can acknowledge that you were planning for risk and are managing problems that may arise.

How does your business make strategic decisions?

Photo Credit: Flickr’s rcia424

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