Speed matters. In the fast-paced, ultra-competitive world, only the strong(or fast) will survive. Being, “slow” is a recipe for disaster – you’ll get eaten alive and your company will die. Or, perhaps worse, you’ll live in a pool of mediocrity for years. Scary. Nobody wants that, so in order to stay alive and thrive, you need to move fast.
How do you do that?
Decision Making. You need to make ’em fast and correctly. Otherwise, you’ll be fast, but wrong (we don’t want that). Here are 4 insanely helpful tricks that I use to make decisions fast and effectively – i.e. no time wasted and no backtracking.
1 – Use Mental Models
Mental models are simple and easy to remember heuristics about how things work. Each model comes from a specific domain, but fortunately, most apply across multiple domains – i.e. they are used a lot. The tricky part is figuring out which models are important and when to use them.
Let’s look at a quick example. Building a startup is counterintuitive, to avoid the tricks and traps you need to use the “first principles” model. Most people (smart people, too) think from a basis of “What are all the factors involved” and then miss important points or replace them with less relevant ones. Crazy, right? But thinking in first principles begs the question “what are the most important factors involved” and then focuses on addressing these… first. Easy.
2 – Ask “Why can’t this be done faster”
Due-dates are fickle, half-baked ideas of when the project leader thinks they could finish. However, in most cases, the project leader factors in everything on their to-do list, personal and professional. This is wrong.
You fix this by being like Elon Musk.
Musk is famously known for his fast-paced companies which leave the competition in the dust, and everyone else wondering “How the heck is he doing this?”. Well, it turns out, it’s really not that hard. Before starting a project, all you need to do is ask “Why can’t this be done faster?”
It’s literally that simple.
3 – Reduce Cognitive Overload
Most people spend lots of time thinking about their project before even starting. One of the first things that comes up is “What will my boss think?” And, being the most important person in your relationship with the company, their opinion matters.
If you don’t want to wait, do one thing. Ask for their opinion… early on.
It’s simple but rarely done. Identify your clear “vision of success” for each project then work with your boss to help clear up any questions. The rest is a piece of cake because you know exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it by. Also, you’ll have them on your side because after all, they agreed to it.
4 – “How fatal, non-fatal, or fixable is this?”
By identifying how important or “fatal” a decision is, you’ll quickly get an idea of how hard, easy, or impossible the situation is to fix.
Let’s look at some examples, if you’re just starting a company, deciding on the Name of the new business is important (not easily fixed) because you’ll put that everywhere – on social profiles, your website, marketing handouts, bank statements, tax documents, etc… and changing all of those things will take a lot of effort. However, if you do screw it up, it’s not fatal.
Now for a tough one, let’s say you’ve got a great name, paid those taxes, and you’re selling product on shelves in Wholefoods. They have a strict 3 strike policy. You’ve already made two strikes. Now you’re debate recalling 10,000 units for 1 potentially broken bottle or sending them to shelves and risking your entire Wholefoods distribution forever. This mistake is fatal, so you shouldn’t risk it!
Decision Making, In Closing
Moving fast isn’t complicated, it’s a simple recipe that anyone can follow and build into their decision-making process. The hard part is having the discipline to actually follow the steps.