This year I have had to make several major business decisions that not only impacted me personally, but my family and my team. These decisions are not to be taken lightly and I knew I had to make the right ones. But when you’re faced with a big decision, as many CEOs face all the time, how do go about making the decision? Below is a framework I’ve used that has helped me with the most important business decisions of my life.
Lay Out My Options
Every decision has options, they may not initially be clearly defined but trust me, you always have options. The first step is to understand your options and this step is easier said than done because you may not be able to come up with the options yourself. Sometimes it requires bringing in third parties or other team members to get other perspectives.
In my case that included speaking with my brother (someone that knows enough about the situation to add value), with my family (someone that understands the personal impact of the decision) and with my advisors (an independent 3rd party with experience in similar situations).
Options without Resources
Although you have have your options, I recommend going through an additional exercise of identifying your options if “resources were not a factor”, and by resources I mean time and money. This exercise helps break free of any preconceived limitations you may be putting on yourself and think more broadly. So I ask myself “if I had all the money I needed what would I do?” or “if I had plenty of time what other options would I have?”. This exercise really helps me answer “what do I really want to do” being free of limits.
Understand the Data of Each Options
Once you have your options down on paper (please make sure you can articulate them on paper) it’s time to do research on each option and understand the supporting data. In any business decision there is data to help support the decision and provide additional insights that you may not have previously considered. This allows you to make a fact based decision instead of just pure intuition.
Thinking Through the Options
Now that you have all your options written down and the data to support each of the options, its time to think through each option and their individual impact on all the stakeholders involved. For me I like to think about the decision during one of my morning walks where I’m free to think with a clear head. This thinking time allows you to review each option and prioritize which one is the best one for the situation.
Discussing With Someone You Trust
At this point you have your options, you have the supporting data, and you’ve had time to think through the options so you should be ready to make the decision. This is the perfect time to bring in someone you trust that help you finalize the decision. This person’s role is purely to listen to you explain the situation, the options you have and what option you think is the right choice. They are there to point out blind spots or maybe something you are not considering or providing a reality check for you.
For me, typically this person is my brother, as my co-founder and consigliere, he’s the best person to discuss these business topics because he’s close enough to the details to have context but not so close that he’s biased by a particular outcome.
Make The Decision
Now its time to make the decision and can be comfortable that I’ve made the best decision with the information I have. Depending on the size and impact of the business you may end up with some remorse or second guessing of yourself. This is toxic and has a negative impact. My father once told me when I was young that you need to be confident that you made the “best decision possible with the information you had at the time” and that’s the best you can do.
Trust Your Decision
Remember hindsight is 20/20 and there is a reason for the term “Monday Morning Quarterback” when all the NFL games are played on Sunday. When making decisions you can’t second guess yourself. That’s why I like to follow this process because I’m confident that I did my best to factor in all the different options and made the best decision possible with the information I had at the time.
Have a Framework That Makes Sense For You
I hope you find this helpful and if you have any suggestions on how to tweak i’m always open to hearing about them. In the mean time, I’ll continue using the framework as it’s proved to be very effective for me.