Don’t make a decision until you’re ready to or you have to. Sounds like an argument for procrastination, right? It is – sort of.
People often make decisions too soon and too quickly, far before they have to make the decision. More information and more analysis will lead to better decisions and improve your life, your relationships, your balance sheet and income statement. And who doesn’t want to improve your life in these ways? Just take the time to make good decisions, even if it means giving up some leisure time to do research.
Via formal decision making and war gaming, decision-makers and players plan for a point where we will get the information we need or we have to make a decision due to the actions of opposing forces, information or not. In other words, there is either a place on the ground or a set time & date where we will make the decision, but not before. People who use formal decision-making processes know that when they make a decision is as almost important as how. Do not make it too early or before you consider what the opposing forces will do. And sometimes, a decision is a reaction to opposing forces, it’s a half-time adjustment that saves the game.
In the Army, we set decision points and look for indicators of enemy intention. Often, the enemy does not do what you think it will do. We plan, and yes we add a bit of hope, to have the required information to make a decision when we get to a decision point. That’s why we have an entire branch of the Army known as intelligence – people who collect information. But we don’t make decisions until we have to.
For example, the military has commands: “on order” and “be prepared to” which help to prepare a subordinate unit for a mission without committing to the decision. The higher headquarters is gathering information and analyzing, then it makes the decision when the situation reaches a decision point.
Let me give you a civilian example, a small company develops a new product and they want to decide how to release it and what channels to use. Some managers would plan for how to distribute the product while developing the product, but we suggest that there are several approaches. Perhaps the company should use a test market or a trial? We would need at least three pieces of information – First, who are our competitors and how will they react? Second, how are our partners going to behave? Third, how do our customers prefer to buy the product? You have to test and examine these questions – don’t prognosticate. Or perhaps the product is so revolutionary – a huge market release will provide the best advantage. The company needs to do the analysis and make a formal decision, but information is key to the decision. A test market gives you more information.
One note, you may not think that most decisions involve the presence of an enemy. For example, just deciding what car to buy does not involve an enemy or rival – but it does involve a bank or finance company. Their role definitely could resemble the role of an enemy – if you miss your payments. So, almost all decisions have a rival, enemy or competitor involved if you think about it deeply enough.