The Best Way To Make Business Decisions That Are Right Under Your Nose

Kara Brown, CEO & CRO of LeadCoverageAdvisor B2B Lead Gen/Lead Gen + Marketing Agency.

While I pride myself on solving complex problems and making tough decisions, I was caught off guard when a coach asked me, “How do you solve problems?” 

Following a silent blank stare that seemed to last a lifetime, I told him I didn’t know. He persisted, telling me that everyone has a process to make decisions and solve problems, even if they aren’t aware of it.

After much reflection, I realized that I did indeed have a process. This process was rooted in my recognition of my patterns.

Patterns → Processes → Problem-Solving

Patterns are a part of our everyday lives. The way we behave, talk and move around the world is influenced by the things we do unconsciously on a regular basis. Our patterns are the foundation of our processes. These patterns then influence our decision-making and problem-solving.

To make those unconscious things more conscious, the trick is to make them less conscious. Your greatest tools in this endeavor are awareness and intention. If you’re aware of what issue you’re dealing with, you can take intentional steps to solve it.

Here’s a three-step process to improve your decision-making and problem-solving:

Step 1: Identify the problem/decision.

It’s important here to be specific about the problem or decision to be made. Instead of wondering, “Should I open a new office?” ask, “Should I open a new office in Chicago in the fall with my new partner?” The latter includes clarity on the main decision (whether or not to open a new office), but it also considers the destination, timeframe and others impacted in the decision. 

This is also applicable to your own personal decisions. Swap a few words from our first example and you’ll get: “Should I go on vacation?” and “Should I go on vacation in Europe in the fall with my husband?” Again, identifying the specific decision to be made will help you eventually solve it by providing more information in your deliberations.

Step 2: Ask at least five people for feedback.

These five should include people you trust and who know you. When I say “know you,” what I’m really saying is that those people are well aware of your gaps. These are the folks who understand what you’re not good at, your blind spots and potential pitfalls. You will be a better leader, leader, and entrepreneur if you have more people who get to know you well. And the more open you are to receiving that, the better you’ll be at making decisions.

I use five coaches to make up my trusted five. My mom is also a part of that group. My husband likes to joke that I couldn’t make a decision without her, and that’s because she’s someone who knows me best. I’ll usually know the answer to my query, but typically one to two of the five will give me something else entirely to consider. Going back to the earlier questions, they might say, “You know, Jeff Bezos is going to space. What about opening an office/going on vacation there?” 

The beauty in new information is that you can discover options you didn’t know existed, which opens up your world to many possibilities.

Step 3: Decide if you’re sticking with your original solution or considering a new solution.

If your answer changes, you can go back to the beginning and ask five more people to weigh in. These people can be completely new or mix of some of the original five with a few others.

I disagree with those who think this is pushing people to make decisions. Data collection is very beneficial. This approach works for me because I’m a deductive thinker, meaning that I like to gather new information from numerous sources before making a decision. The more people involved, a better outcome. This isn’t to share the blame, but instead to share and garner learnings from a wide swath of expertise.

It also speaks to the importance of having a growth mindset. When you’re willing and open to receiving the best advice, feedback and experience shares from unexpected places, you increase your capacity for learning and optimizing your results.

If you’re sticking to your original solution (or you’ve completed another round and now feel confident in your choice), congratulations! You just made a decision that’s been carefully considered and vetted by people you trust and who know you best, whether that’s five or 15.

Another benefit to sharing your decision-making process with others is that it can help both you and them gain clarity. It creates a feedback loop. Plus, they will likely share their decision-making processes with you.

I know I don’t have a confidence or sales gap, but I most definitely have a finance and operations gap. The greatest gift I’ve given myself as I’ve matured as an entrepreneur, leader and person is to surround myself with people who complement me and my skill set. I can offer my perspective and assistance to those who can benefit from it, and they can help me in areas where I’m not as strong. That’s a win-win.

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