Executive Decision Making Strategy

Executive Decision Making Strategy

How can you make solid executive decisions? Ones that are resourceful, defensible, and advance the mission?

Executives create a future that doesn’t yet exist using methods that haven’t yet been invented, with best practices that haven’t yet been established. It’s hard to make decisions in the absence of clear data.

You have to make it up as you go along.

What I’ve learned about making decisions is based on the OODA loop decision strategy developed by USAF Colonel John Boyd. OODA = Observe -> Orient -> Decide -> Act.

Here’s my version applied to business. When you’re confused, overwhelmed, frustrated, stuck:

1) Stop. Breathe. Disconnect from the situation: Step away from your desk. Take a walk. Take a nap. You can’t make a good decision in a stressed state, so reset your mindset to a more resourceful condition.

2) Write down what you know. I learned this in engineering training. Start with what you’ve measured, observed, and can be certain about. This clears the mental clutter and starts the process of “connecting the dots.”

3) Identify what you don’t know. Create a hypothesis that asks the question about the missing information. For example: if sales are down, what might the reasons be? How can I test the validity of this question?

4) Decide what you’ll test.

5) Take action, knowing that few decisions are permanent or fatal.


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