How to improve your decision making
One of the crucial tests of a communicator is winning the approval of senior management for a recommended strategy, whether it relates to communication or more general management issues. A bullet proof way to present a strategy to top management and the executive committee is to work to the following formula.
James Lukaszewski, one of the most experienced US PR consultants says it is proven in use. Prepare, and if necessary, present, a document with the following format:
- Situation. A brief description of the nature of the issue, problem or situation that requires decision, action or study.
- The goal. A clear, concise statement of the task to be accomplished, or the target to be reached, and why.
- Analysis/assumptions. A brief description of what the situation means, its implications and the assumptions central to the analysis. Managers always need to know why, but not in great detail.
- Options. Always provide at least three response options for the situation as presented and analyzed – preferably four options to limit the number of times a middle option may be chosen merely on the basis that it is the middle ground. If there is only one recommendation, which is questioned, it will most likely die and the discussion will move out of your control. The ‘do nothing’ option should be included in every strategy. The optimal choice should be recommended and the fallback recommendations should be supportable. Be prepared to do something in between the things that have been recommended.
- Recommendation. The recommendation is obviously based on the line of action that has the strongest case. At the same time, be prepared to walk through an analysis of each of other options proposed.
- Unintended consequences. These are the reactions or circumstances that could arise from suggested options or by doing nothing. Inadequate provision for consequences (risk management) can sabotage an otherwise useful strategy.
This is a structured approach leading to productive, focused planning. If you use it, you will be able to put robust recommendations for important strategies for decision making at the highest level.