Decision Making at a Senior Level

By Ann Harris on March 30, 2017

The higher up you go within an organisation, the bigger the decisions, or the consequences of those decisions, get. Either way there also seems to be an ever growing population of managers who run from one meeting to the next, and then when those meetings reach a critical mass, or the consequences of inaction also reach a critical point, then it becomes essential for the organisation to move forward and that now rather urgent action quickly follows.

This process of meetings for meeting’s sake, or meetings about meetings must be, in time terms alone, highly expensive.

So here are some simple guidelines:

Decisions about Growth
These are easier, because you are going to apply some effort somewhere, which should mean wherever you apply that effort there will be an equal and positive reaction. Not always of course, but the problem with these decisions is that they are all about getting the timing right within your financial year, your overall strategy and your people. When growth accelerates quicker than you planned – how do you cope with that? If it doesn’t match your expectations what are the possibilities? Ultimately these are the decisions that should be made with most decisiveness because any growth is positive.

Decisions about Procurement
It is much harder to make these decisions especially if you have a 3 month tendering process that ties up the time of operational directors who would much rather focus on decision about Growth. Wherever you can, speed up these decisions to maximise the true purpose of the organisation. Tendering for products such as IT, software, and certain capital investment would seem to make sense, however if you know you’re buying IBM in the end then why waste time on the process? Certain things are almost impossible to tender for, and incidentally, training is one of them.

Decisions about Retrenchment.
These decisions are without question the hardest, but in essence that retrenchment brings you back round to the decision about growth – indeed you are putting yourself in a position, through retrenchment, to start growing again. If that is ultimately what is going to happen, cutting back should maintain those growth related strengths rather than cut numbers for costs sake, arbitrarily.

It is some Manager’s ambition to make sure that when they reach this level, they will be doing nothing but meetings to discuss in detail these three major topics. But to be clear, the best managers are decisive (right or wrong) they make decisions and live with the outcomes, they spend time ‘playing the game’ instead of discussing the score boards and they realise that planning, then implementing is one thing, but sometimes ‘you don’t need to get it exactly right – you just need to get it going’ and that motto means that your organisation will be a flowing river of activity.

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