Think! Here's a key step to making a business decision.There is an important step that most people do not even consider when making important business decisions. Today I want to address the most important of those overlooked steps.

When making an important decision, stop and consider what the answer, or outcome, will look like when the decision is reached.

Most of the time we gather up all the information we have and weigh it. We decide based on which pile is the heaviest in terms of what we think we want and need. This method is flawed because no consideration is ever given to what constitutes weight of particular pieces of the decision making process.

For example, one client approached me with the problem of choosing a vendor for an especially important function of business. One proposal looks great. It’s very slick and well presented by a large, nation-wide firm. The other proposal isn’t as voluminous but does cover the important points. The prices are about the same. The client asked me to review the proposals and to look for anything that might tip the decision.

Since both firms offer the same service at the same price, does this decision require much consideration? Won’t either choice yield the same results?

I asked the client to consider what the ideal outcome of this decision would look like. This isn’t a list of “what you want” though those things are certainly included in the ‘look’ of the outcome.

Here’s the question exactly. “Tell me how things work, ideally, with the company of choice under different circumstances.” The client said that he expected fast turn-around to service requests. He expected someone who would answer the phone and ‘hear’ each case and respond accordingly. When there is a problem, the client envisioned picking up the phone and working together to resolve the issue.

Ok, both proposals promise fast service but which would provide the most intimate service experience?

The smaller firm, in this case, would be the better choice for the client.

Now let’s take the identical parameters and have the discussion with a different client. (I actually did this yesterday!)

This client also has a need for a service and also has two proposals before him.

When I asked about what the working relationship would look like as the relationship developed, this client wanted depth. “I need things to happen very quickly. Our company has been hampered by working with a small vendor who is just not getting the work out. We might need 10 people on this for a while and then one guy could handle the on-going work. But if someone gets sick, we need someone else to pick up the ball. That’s the problem now. The current vendor makes a little progress and then starts another project with someone else and our work is delayed.”

In this case, the client’s view of the ideal outcome is completely different. He needs a big team and the national firm is the better choice.

Both clients called me for advice. (Thank you) To both I gave the same thinking assignment. Consider what the solution will look like when you find it.

Now the cynical side in me wants to speak. My clients understand that my chief value to them is to help develop better business thinking. Many of you reading this will face a circus of rolling eyes if you suggest at an important decision-making meeting that a moment is taken to consider what the answer will ‘look like’ when you find it.

Even though this is one of the key steps to decision making, few managers or owners can accept it into their thinking process without being sold on the idea. This short-sided thinking is causing businesses a great deal of difficulty. Too bad, those difficulties can be avoided. It grieves me to meet resistance when I try to encourage thinking. Encourage thinking.

There are other steps to making decisions I will address in future posts.

Good luck with your business ventures!

Chris Reich, CEO, TeachUâ„¢