Don't Say Maybe, Just Decide

Wriiten by: Cameron Morrissey

“Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men & women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.” ~Brian Tracy

“Be decisive. A wrong decision is generally less disastrous than indecision.” ~Bernhard Langer

One of the ways that many of us cope with our insanely busy schedules is by putting off decisions. We’ll gather everything that we need to make a decision then set all of that aside. When someone inquires about it we may say “maybe”, or in my case I use a slightly different term; “we’ll see.” Do you remember your reaction when you were a child and received these responses from your parents? While in the business environment a “maybe” isn’t always a “no” like it was with your parents, it’s just about as annoying for team members.

Nobody ever won any awards or learned anything of value by saying “maybe”

I would encourage you to eliminate “maybe” and words/phrases like it from your vocabulary, and when you feel the urge to say them, force yourself to make the decision right then and there. A few things to consider:

It doesn’t usually take as long as you think – Many times all of the information is there (including the person who put it together) and just needs some focus to come to a decision. Very often you’ll find that the decision is obvious and can be made with only a few minutes review of the data and discussion with the people involved. This is especially true of any decision you might say “maybe” to.

Increases organizational speed – By setting an example of decisiveness and not wallowing in grey areas you will see your entire team move in that direction. This has a snowball effect on your organization and can lead to amazing results. Nowadays it is the fast organizations and people that stand out far more than others.

Structure it in a way to learn and modify – Startups do this all the time. Whether in formal “A/B testing” or through review of other forms of data (sales conversion, customer feedback, site traffic, etc.), they implement fast and change just as fast as they learn. In the fast paced industries they live in this is a basic of survival. In more mature industries this can still be enormously valuable as you get immediate feedback on what assumptions work and don’t work. Whether it is new responsibilities for a team member, a change in policy, or simply a decision on whether to approve vacation time you can make a mistake and change it after the fact once you learn better.

Frees up time – What happens when you put off a decision? You just have to pick it back up again later and make it. By making the decision now you are almost always saving yourself time later. As you do this over and over again you’ll see yourself gain more and more time.

Not all decisions can be made immediately and many should wait for all of the available data, but we often let the little to medium decisions wait for the same level of prep and analysis as the major (i.e. costly) decisions. In those cases the response you give to team members shouldn’t be “maybe” it should be directed at what is missing for you to make the decision and coming up with a plan to fill the gap.

Make the decision and learn. Trying to learn from indecision and “maybe” is a useless endeavor.