Leaders - Making Good Decisions, Every Time

Updated: Oct 19, 2019

Making decisions can easily be one of the hardest parts of leading a team. And when you add the increased pressure of production deadlines and all the challenges that can arise from start to finish, it can even be paralyzing.

With the current challenges of manufacturing such as tight deadlines, control of waste, staffing utilization, increasing outsourced competition, the pressure is constant and ever growing. This increases the pressure that today's leaders are facing. As a result of these types of pressures, I often found myself resulting to the Cowboy factor. This is where we make a quick decision in order to gets things back to moving forward. This is influenced by thinking that the sooner we get back in motion with production, the better resolved the issue will be and that the longer we take, the lack of control and sense of urgency we have. This lack of urgency may be frowned upon by upper management or even your own team. These types of pressures are enough to make anyone resort to quick decisions. As a result, my rushed decisions created errors that, in end, navigated to steps going backwards.

So, what should happen? There are a few key variables that should be considered when you’re tasked with pulling the big trigger.

1. Take a step back.

2. How much time is allotted to make this decision?

3. What are my resources to help make the decision?

Let’s take a look at this process through a manufacturing example.

You are managing a manufacturing line. Something is produced that hints towards a greater impact in the quality of what was already produced. You have broken product, and now you’re not sure how long you have been producing this defect before it’s sealed in boxes at the end of the manufacturing line. The defect is brought to your attention, and of course you are asked, “What do we do?”

Take a step back. Rookie leaders move in proportion with the speed of everything around them. Don’t do this! Don’t let someone else’s excitement or the excitement of the situation push you to make a rash decision. Take that step back so that you can gain the wider scope needed to see the bigger picture.

How much time is allotted to make the decision? So how much time do you have to make the decision? You don’t want

to rush into a 5-second decision when you could have had 24 hours to make the same decision. Knowing what extra time that's available is vital to your approach.

Now that we took a step back, we know how much time we have to make the decision, what are your resources to help make that decision? This can be anything from a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to personnel on or off your team. This resource is anything or anyone that can provide information about the situation and help determine your path forward.

Now that you have your plan, let’s run through it. You’re approached with the “What do we do” scenario. You take a step back. This gives you a chance to look over the variables involved in the situation and discuss them with the involved operators. You find out that your allotted time to make this decision is 12 hours as the product can only be in-process for that time frame before it goes bad. You gathered the information about the situation, you have your time frame, it’s now time to reach out to your resources. You not only discuss options with experienced operators, but you also include Quality Assurance (QA). With the information that you brought forward; it creates an "If This Then That" discussion to determine the best path forward. As a result, it becomes a unified decision and likely the best one that you could have made. Even if something goes wrong, which is always possible, a group fail is always better than the individual. The individual fail can easily be the outcome of the Cowboy/Cowgirl factor. Stepping forward with a quick decision and on your own. With these steps, you help avoid quick decisions and be more consistent in making good decisions every time.

So, remember, take a step back, determine your allotted time, and utilize your available resources. This process was given to me and has worked wonders over the years, and I hope that it will do the same for you.

What are some strategies that you use to help get you through making the right decision when the pressure is on? Share below in the comments section to benefit you as well as the Sigmasmith community.

Thanks for reading.

Rick V.


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