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The Quick Decision

The Options Estimate

The quick decision is often made at a time of crisis. The best examples come from the military. They get to make urgent decisions in very stressful situations so they've developed a pretty good method to help them cope.

At its basic level this contains:

  • Operational objectives – what you have to achieve, the task you've been set
  • Limiting factors – things that help or hinder
  • Options – more than one choice, don't leap to the first conclusion
  • Course of action – the option you choose, picked for good reasons  
  • It is a way to stop and think before making quick decisions and stops you making a knee-jerk reaction to circumstances. Even the quickest decision is helped by a pause to consider:

  • What you need to do. Work out what you've been given to do and what you'll actually do to succeed. The estimate explains how what you do fits in with the things around you. Knowing what you have to do is key to understanding how you will do it. It's not always a one-off task though. Sometimes it's worth looking back and checking that the situation hasn't changed enough that you have to change your mind.
  • What's there to help or hinder you. Some things come up every time:
    • Deadlines
    •  The business environment around you
    •  The competition
    •  Your colleagues and collaborators
    •  Your resources
  • What reasonable choices do you have, what are the differences between them, return on investment, timescale, who gains. At this point you should have a broad idea of what needs to be done. If all has gone well then you will have a few options to choose from.
  • Which is the best choice to take. As you work through your options, you get to see what tasks need to be done and which ones aren't going to help you. For each option you can then work out the pros and cons, the effort and risk. 

You then make your decision and it's going to be a logical one that's based on the analysis you've just done. There's no point in putting all this effort in, just to pick your favourite or the easy way out. Now is the time to look into your choices and how you set your goals.

Setting Goals, Doing The Right Thing