The Value of Decision Clarity
Through my executive experience, I have come to appreciate the value of clarity in decision-making. Not only does a clear decision save time, eliminate unnecessary actions, and release energy into acting, but it also enables a leader to project commitment to a vision and allows the whole team to focus on execution, which is paramount to a successful implementation.
Clarity Enables the Leader to Project Commitment to a Chosen Path and Eliminates Confusion
When you know it’s right, you’ll make it right.
Keith Collins, CEO of PhyTrust, Inc.8
Most interviewed business leaders talked about the importance of getting to clarity or inner certainty about a decision as quickly as possible. It is critically important for the management team to see the leader’s commitment to the chosen path. This commitment can come only when the leader unequivocally reaches a clear decision that is accompanied with an internal commitment to reaching a goal through a chosen path. As I mentioned before, this inner certainty cannot be faked and is visible to the other people involved. What’s happening on the inside shows on the outside. Seeing this commitment, the team usually puts extra effort into reaching the objective better and faster.
Clarity Saves Time and Eliminates Unnecessary Actions
Reaching the right decision quickly can save weeks or months of frustrating indecision and uncertainty. The time spent on achieving clarity pays back in solutions that reach your objective through the fastest route, eliminating unnecessary diversions. In fact, you might be surprised when you find yourself taking actions that are entirely different from what you would have done without reaching clarity first. You eliminate perhaps 80 percent or more of the unnecessary actions you would have taken.
The following case demonstrates how one half hour spent in considering a decision and reaching clarity can eliminate unnecessary actions and keep you from spending months on a slower path.
Doug is a very successful, active person who, similar to many of us, likes to act on an opportunity that presents itself and becomes frustrated when he cannot do so because of time commitment to other efforts.
Spending just half an hour in contemplation of the situation, he reaches a clear decision to postpone the show syndication for six months. This decision clarity is beneficial to him in three ways: a) it enables him to cross off several time-intensive action items from his to-do list, thus freeing his time; b) it enables him to focus on other efforts; and c) it allows other marketing efforts within the company to mature to a point where a syndicated radio show can leverage them and, as a result, produce a much bigger impact on Doug’s overall business. Was it worth reaching this clarity?
Clarity Releases Energy into Acting
Achieving clarity in a decision focuses your energy as well as the energy of your team on moving forward in executing the decision and achieving results rather than in being in a "deciding mode"—a state that many decision makers find frustrating and energy-draining. Another problem with the state of indecision that can be avoided when clarity is reached is wasting the company’s resources by allowing different teams to pursue different courses of action until a clear decision is made and communicated.
Clarity Allows Flexibility in Tactics and Implementation
When interviewed, decision makers stressed that reaching clarity usually means alignment with the vision behind the decision and not with the specifics of the implementation plan. Often, additional information becomes available after the decision is made that might require a change in the implementation tactics. The alignment with the broad objective rather than implementation details makes it easier to alter the tactics if necessary—provided, of course, that the overall implementation plan still leads to the target. As a result, a clear decision enables much more flexibility in the implementation, as opposed to cases when a decision maker just settles on a course of action without clarity.