Peter Drucker once said that “the least effective decision makers are the ones who constantly make decisions.” That seemed unrealistic as like any muscle, your decision making muscles needed to be exercised on a regular basis to get stronger correct? What in the world was he thinking?
Simply stated, the most effective decision makers make less decisions because they only focus on the important decisions (Drucker, 1990, p.121). In his statement, Drucker is commenting on the management style of truly effective decision makers. Those leaders know when to delegate less important decisions, or those that can easily be reversed, to their staff. This provides the lower level managers with the autonomy they need to execute the decision. It is equally important for those middle level managers who report into the organization’s leadership to know when to burden their managers with decisions.
Stumbling across the Drucker statement came at the perfect time for me. I was at a national conference in Washington, DC where the keynote speaker for this event was Dan Heath, co-author of the book titled Decisive – How To Make Better Choices In Life And Work (Heath, 2013). In Dan’s book, he and his co-author provide guidance on how to make better decisions. Dan discussed narrow framing, a decision making liability where decision makers only consider the outcome they want to happen. When this happens, Dan recommends taking the selected outcome off the table and asks the decision maker – now what will you do? I would also suggest that if you are the decision maker and aware enough to notice your narrow framing, you take Drucker’s advance and make one less decision – delegate it along to a more neutral party.
Drucker, P.F. (1990). Managing a nonprofit organization: Principles and Practices. New York: Harper Collins.
Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2013). Decisive – How To Make Better Decisions In Life And Work. New York: Crown Business.