Decision Making 21
Every day we make decisions. The size, range or importance of those decisions can be and usually are quite various. From deciding what to wear or have for breakfast at 6.00am to multi-million dollar decisions at 9.00am and everything in between and all in one day sometimes. Making decisions which are timely and which are based on careful analysis of various information is critical to our success. Decision making is a habit as well as a process. Some leader/managers are more ‘wired’ for effective decision making but for others it is a much harder task. BTW, one reason why Chief Executive’s of large companies get paid the money they do is because they have a proven track record of very good decision making in very complex environments.
As Pastors we must apply a good process as outlined below (this fulfils our stewardship responsibility) but we also want to listen to what God may be saying (this fulfils our spiritual leadership responsibility). That quite honestly complicates decision making for Christian Leaders. Some leaders use the ‘God says’ phrase as the trump card especially when it isn’t going their way (who around here is going to argue with God?), others rarely consider what God is saying and rely on managerial ability yet others just ‘shoot from the hip’. Striking a good balance is very challenging.
If you check out any Management textbook it will dedicate a chapter or two on decision making. So what follows is a summary of that content. I highly recommend it to you as a ‘tried and proven’ process that significantly increases the chances of success whether you are leading a church, a sub-ministry in a church, or a Christian/mission organisation. It is also a useful template for the bigger decisions you have to make at home or if you are serving on a school Board or involved in another organisation in some capacity.
1. Identify the decision to be made
- What is the problem on hand
- What is the objective to be achieved
- How the decision will impact people or the organisation
- Urgency and criticality of the decision
2. Gather relevant information
It is important to gather all relevant information about the decision to be made with regards to above mentioned points. It will include identifying all various parties, stakeholders who will part of the decision, how the decision will impact different groups or individuals or the organisation as a whole.
3. Identify the options
We need to identify clearly all the available alternative options, paths or actions for the decision to be made. I cannot stress how valuable this step is. This is where you are cautious about doing what seems obvious or right in front of you but rather explore all possible options even ones that seem completely ‘left of field’. It is at this stage that pastors might take a pause and ask God to speak.
4. Evaluate the evidence
Evaluating all the options with their pros and cons needs to be carried out.
5. Choose among alternatives
Choose the best alternative based on the above careful analysis of all the alternatives.
6. Implement the chosen alternative
Implement the actions associated with the alternative path or option being selected.
7. Analyse the results
We need to analyse the outcome achieved after the implementation of the actions selected in the above step.
Finally, there are a range of more technical tools and techniques that can help the decision making process. Such things as market research, cost-benefit analysis, swot analysis, decision tree, T-chart, Pareto analysis, 5-why’s analysis etc. Some of these tools are hugely helpful for Christian leaders to incorporate into their decision making especially for the big decisions that we all need to make from time to time.
Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.