Decision Making in Uncertainty…

It’s not easy running a business right now is it? With government advice and decisions changing almost daily, it is very difficult to forecast where your business will be in the next month, two months, six months let alone a year. In this situation there can be a complete breakdown in your normal decision-making process and the dreaded ‘paralysis’ can set in. At the other end of the scale knee jerk/ quick decisions can be made based on emotions and feelings, rather than fact, that can produce worse outcomes than paralysis. You cannot be at either end of the scale, but you MUST make those key decisions if you are not to be left behind by competitors who do. As leader you must act and not allow ‘paralysis through uncertainty’ to set in. Remember your people are feeling uncertain too and they look for decisive leadership to tell them where their employer’s business is going and give them more comfort. Even if for certain individuals the decision might mean a redundancy, this certainty at least allows them to plan their future instead of ‘hanging by a thread’. After the initial shock, provided they are handled correctly, they will thank you for making the decision. For those who will still be involved the feeling of knowing that will be a great relief and they too can commit to your business and plan their future with a degree of certainty.

Making careful and reasoned decisions is possible if the right process is followed and the challenge, or problem, is looked at from a number of angles.

Firstly, consider carefully the information that you have at hand and what additional information you need to make a reasoned decision. If you don’t have some important information do all you can to get it.

Secondly consider whether the data you have is in any way biased. As an example, is it purely sales information or input from the sales team you are working on? How would your Finance, Operations or Marketing team view the situation? What perspectives might they have? Also remember that new data often captures our attention because it surprises us, but the fact that it is new might mean we attach too much importance to it.

Thirdly identify which information matters most to your decision-making. There is a vast amount of information out there that you could explore. We are definitely in the era of information overload and you can’t afford to get sucked into data chasing. Limit the information you seek to only that APPLICABLE to your business challenge and screen out the rest – there simply isn’t time to review everything. Ask yourself. ‘What do I really need to know to move forward?’

Lastly formulate questions that will help you get the answers you need. Organise your questions into four categories:

  • What behaviours am I seeing in the area in question?
  • What opinions are being expressed?
  • What feelings are coming through (emotions etc.)?
  • What do I factually know about it (knowledge)?

This will allow you to distance yourself from biased data and will give you a number of perspectives on how to evaluate it.

Following these practices will help you avoid emotional responses by identifying and confronting them and will facilitate the rational decision making you seek – even in times of uncertainty.

Crucial decisions are going to be made in the coming weeks – don’t shirk your responsibility but do it right, be reasoned and rational.

Need some help/ advice in making those crucial decisions – for a free/ no obligation one hour chat contact us at, or call on 0116 232 5231

Alternatively, contact me directly at the points below:

07747 023610

David Turner

Managing Director