Once Oprah Winfrey said, “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned recently is that when you don’t know what to do, you should do nothing until you figure out what to do because a lot of times you feel like you are pressed against the wall, and you’ve got to make a decision. You never have to do anything. Don’t know what to do? Do nothing.”
Eight years ago, a friend who was well settled at a top TV channel in Karachi, decided to join a new TV channel for growth. Unfortunately, things went wrong there; she is still not settled.
Please do not ask me about some famous media personnel who decided to switch their employers recently. Only time will tell how wise they were.
Thirty-eight years ago, there was a poor student in Daro, district Thatta, who failed to appear in the Class X examinations, because he couldn’t pay fees. Although the boy was very disappointed, he decided to work as a labourer, collect the required money, and appear next year – and he did it. Later, he became the first local director of a reputable private educational institution in Pakistan. I am referring to Dr Muhammad Memon.
If a decision is a choice from two or more alternatives, then we make dozens or hundreds of decisions every day: tea or coffee; biscuits or omelette; burger or biryani; resolving an issue or handling a difficult client, a subordinate, a peer, a supervisor or a loved one, etc. Doing so, we deal with two kinds of issues:
- structured: straightforward, familiar and easy; and
- unstructured: new and unusual. The latter can make or ruin a person or an institution. Notice the positive and negative impacts of decisions made by people in the above examples.
In decision-making process, usually we confront with two situations:
- Taking a rational decision by choosing the best alternative, if we have a clear and specific goal, and know all possible alternatives and consequences.
- If we are experienced and understand a situation well, we also make a decision using our intuition, based on our experience, feelings and accumulated judgement.
In any situations, making timely and well-considered decisions is essential in business as well as personal life. Before taking any decision, a wise person always:
- defines and clarifies the issue
- gathers all facts and understands causes
- brainstorms possible options
- considers and compares pros and cons of each option
- selects the best option
- explains his/her decision to those involved and affected, and follows up to ensure proper and effective implementation.
Are you a victim of wrong decisions? What if you had kept in mind the above six points? What if you had compromised or did nothing?
I second Oprah that sometimes doing nothing is much better than making a wrong decision.