The ability to use a rational process in making decisions.


Slow to act? Miss decision deadlines often? Have to scramble to get done? Still weighing the objections? Uncomfortable making final decisions? You may associate timely decisions with sloppy decisions, but this is not the case. Timely means sooner, as soon as possible or by a time-certain date but not sloppy. Timely, thoughtful decisions can be of high quality. It just takes a balanced analysis and understanding of relevant objectives, alternatives and risks.

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.Proverbs 11:14

Skilled Characteristics

  • Timely

    Makes decisions in a timely manner, sometimes with incomplete information and under tight deadlines and pressure

  • Rational

    Follows a logical process to make decisions

  • Inclusive

    Includes the appropriate people in the decision making process

  • Thorough

    Balances desired outcomes and objectives with risks

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

– Stephen Covey

Unskilled Characteristics

  • Cautious

    Slow to decide or to declare – overly conservative and cautious

  • Procrastinator

    May procrastinate, seek perfect information to build confidence and avoid risk

  • Perfectionist

    May be a perfectionist, needing to be right; protects strongly against criticism or failure

  • Disorganized

    May be disorganized and always scrambling to meet decision deadlines

  • Slow

    May be slow to make decisions on more complex issues – lack of clear and thorough decision making process

  • Exclusive

    Does not include others in the decision making process

“Most discussions of decision making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executive’s decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.”

– Peter Drucker

Causes of Weakness

  • Conflict Avoider

    Dislikes conflict and thus avoids decision making

  • Risk Averse

    Is afraid of taking risks and thus has a hard time making difficult decisions

  • Disorganized

    Does not have an organized and structured approach to making decisions

  • Intimidated

    Is easily intimidated by others and their strong opinions

  • Need to Know

    Requires an unrealistic amount and quality of information before being willing to make a decision

  • Not Focused

    Has difficultly focusing on all of the complexities of a problem without getting distracted by one or two variables of the decision

  • Perfectionist

    Has a high need to be right, be correct, not make mistakes, and not fail

  • Busy

    Has too much work to do to take sufficient time to work through a complex decision through to completion

“One day, Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. Its response was a question. “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

– Lewis Carroll


Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.

  • Perfectionist?

    PERFECTIONIST? Recognize perfectionism for what it might be—collecting more information than others do to improve confidence in making a fault-free decision. Life rarely gives us opportunities to eliminate all risk and provide us with ALL the necessary information we want. Try to decrease your need to be right all the time until you reach a more reasonable balance between thinking it through and taking action.

  • Procrastinator?

    PROCRASTINATOR? Start earlier. Always do 10% of thinking about the decision immediately after it is assigned so you can better gauge what it is going to take to finish the rest. Divide decisions into thirds or fourths and schedule time to work on them spaced over the delivery period. Always leave more time than you think it’s going to take. Set up checkpoints for yourself along the way. Schedule early data collection and analysis. Don’t wait until the last moment. Set an internal deadline considerably before the real deadline.

  • Scared?

    SCARED? Sometimes we have to involve people in the decision making process who we are afraid of – or afraid of their different or strong opinions. Mentally rehearse for worst-case scenarios and hard to deal with people. Anticipate what the person might say and have responses prepared so as not to be caught off guard. Focus on two or three key points in conflict situations and stick to those clearly and politely. Try not to bring up everything you can think of, but instead focus on what’s most important.

  • Overwhelmed?

    OVERWHELMED? Think of a big decision as a series of smaller ones. Sometimes sufficient information does not exist to help us in making a good decision. Try making a series of smaller decisions, get instant feedback, correct the course, get a little more data, move forward a little more, until the bigger decision gets made. They don’t try to get it right the first time. They try their best educated guess now, and then correct as more information or feedback comes in.

  • Need a Process?

    NEED A PROCESS? Start with prayer, and continue with prayer throughout any decision making process you use. Give God the opportunity to guide you or show you the way. Who are the other key people that need to be involved with this decision? Who has critical information that you will need in order to make a good decision? Together with the key decision makers in the room, define your decision by writing a decision statement. Try NOT to write the statement in a ‘yes/no’, ‘either/or’, or multiple choice form. That severely limits the options you allow yourself to consider. Make a list of all the goals and objectives of your decision. What is everything you are hoping for or hoping to achieve? What are your limitations (i.e. money, time, staff, technology, resources)? Once you have listed all of that, then brainstorm possible alternatives (choices) to consider. Use your list of objectives to help you design some creative alternatives, as well. This might include combining some of the initial alternatives you had thought of. Next, evaluate each alternative (possible choice) to see how well each alternative fulfills the objectives of the decision. For each of the 2 alternatives that seem to be the best fit, consider the risks associated with each of those alternatives. As you compare those top 2 alternatives while considering their risks, which alternative are you most comfortable choosing? Do you feel you need to also look at the risks of the 3rd best alternative? Make a prayerful choice and decide how you will minimize and remain aware of the risks going forward.