The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

If everything starts with a decision, how can we set ourselves up for the strongest start possible, every time? Decision-making is a skill worth mastering in the professional space, with the added bonus of improving our personal lives too. With the right knowledge, tools and techniques in place, it’s also highly achievable. On August 19, SIRC hosted a webinar – Decision Making, Choosing with Confidence – led by Kelly McInenly, designed to help participants answer the following questions:

  • What type of decision maker am I?
  • What types of decisions do I make?
  • How can I optimize my decision-making based on decision type?
  • How can I optimize my ability to align others to my decisions?

Below is a video recap of the session and a Q&A blog with Kelly addressing some of the questions posed by participants.

This was the fourth session in SIRC’s new webinar series, Experts in the House. Register now for upcoming sessions.

Q1: How do I know what type of decision-maker I am?

There are four decision-making styles – Conceptual, Behavioural, Analytical and Direct. The simplest way to know what type of decision-maker you are is to ask yourself, “What makes decisions easier for me – More ideas/options? More consultation? More information/data? More autonomy?”

  • More ideas/options = Conceptual decision-making
  • More consultation = Behavioural decision-making
  • More information/data = Analytical decision-making
  • More autonomy = Direct decision-making
Q2: How can I optimize my decision-making based on decision type?

In addition to giving yourself access where possible to “more” of the above in your decision-making process, try to minimize your largest disruptors:

Style Disruptor Solution
Conceptual Process Challenge the rule book if process is holding you up. Ask for clarification and propose alternatives to the rule.
Behavioural Pleasing Decide which stakeholder matters most and cater to that style. 
Analytical People Limit the number of people involved in making the decision. 
Direct  Pointlessness Define the objective clearly so everyone is working to the same outcome. 
     

In order to avoid blind spots in your decision-making, consult with people who are a different decision-making type. Most importantly, consider the decision-making style of those you will ultimately need to align with your decision.

Q3: How can I optimize my ability to align others to my decisions?

In addition to understanding your approver/co-decision-maker’s “Style” as mentioned above, there are four other factors to consider when aligning others to your decisions: Size, Simplicity, Structure and Sequence.

Size – Too much choice confounds us. It becomes difficult to compare and contrast all of the options, and the risk of a “wrong decision” increases. Constrain the choice set you are asking your audience to consider to avoid choice overload and be six times more likely to make a decision.

Simplicity – The amount of effort required to make a decision – or once the decision is made – has a meaningful impact on if/how we decide (even requiring boxes to be checked can deter a decision!). Count and cap the actions required by your audience to understand, approve and execute your proposal.

Structure – We don’t always know our preferences very well. The value of choice depends on our ability to perceive the difference between options. Craft your proposal to showcase its merits vs. alternatives your audience is considering. 

Sequence – We have a false perception that randomness is alternating so we unconsciously try to “even things out” by approving/denying proposals based on how many proposals we have already approved/denied. Consider how you can have your recommendation seen as early in a process as possible before this bias sets in.

Q4: Is there a quick way or activity to get a sense of an individual’s decision-making style in order to adapt your pitch?

Speaking with others who have worked with your audience in the past is a great way to learn about their decision-making style – What objections did they have? Did they ask for more time, information or alternatives?  

Q5: Is it ideal for a Board to have a mix of different types of decision-makers?

Yes! A blended group of styles is in the best position to make decisions that consider and balance facts, feelings, ideas and impact. It will take longer to reach a decision, but you will avoid the unintended consequences of having failed to consider a stakeholder, a data point, an option or a result.  

Q6: Are there any recommended books or resources to improve decision-making?

Two books I found helpful at a high level are The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. For a quick “skill pill”, I recommend this Harvard Business Review article (HBR subscribers only) 12 Questions to Ask Before You Make That Big Decision.


For more webinar content and to register for future sessions, check out SIRC’s full series – Experts in the House.


About the Author(s)

Kelly McInenly is classically trained and entrepreneurially minded. She has 20 years of progressive leadership experience in Food & Beverage (Packaged Goods, Foodservice and Restaurant), with senior-level cross-functional and cross-industry experiences in Business Development, Field Sales, Cosmetics & Retail.

Underpinned by a classical, Consumer Packaged Goods marketing foundation, these broadening opportunities have fostered agility at all points in the commercialization process, and an ability to find creative solutions that deliver repeatable results in multi-national, privately-held and franchised organizations, in both Canadian and U.S. markets.