Posted by Oliver Nyumbu
July 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment »
Making the right decision can be a tricky balance. Speed may be of the essence in these challenging times, but judgement can be severely impaired by haste – in the words of author and mountaineer Jim Collins, “Those who panic die on the mountain.”
So, strike whilst the iron is too hot and you may end up burning your fingers! On the other hand, a protracted delay can be equally damaging. Aside from the risk of missing the boat altogether, a key negative factor in the decision making paradox is too much information.
Oskamp studied the attitudes of a panel of clinical psychologists and psychology students in their assessment of a 29-year-old subject, Joseph Kidd. Participants were given a brief extract of Kidd’s case study and then asked to complete a questionnaire and estimate the accuracy of their responses. They were then given a second extract and asked to repeat the questionnaire and again estimate their success. This was followed by a third and fourth extract, building a series of actual scores and accuracy estimates. The results were quite illuminating. Despite the accuracy of their answers increasing by only 2% after 3 additional extracts, the panel’s assessment of their judgement had grown by a further 20% - a disturbing level of over-confidence!
With the weight of a fragile economy pressing down on organisations, it is tempting for some decision makers to be seen to act quickly - often at the expense of careful reflection and logical thought. Conversely, as our work with senior leaders often reveals, there is often a level of over-caution that stifles opportunities. Fortunately, poor judgement is a leadership sickness that can be remedied with effective coaching support and intentional strategic reflection.
As Oskamp’s research demonstrates, sometimes it is unwise to agonise. Make your decision and organise!