quick decision-making

How to master the art of quick decision-making

Reading time: about 6 min


  • Leadership
  • Professional development

Every day, managers are faced with a series of decisions—big and small. How fast those decisions are made can make a significant impact. Without quick decision-making, opportunities are missed. Time is wasted. Costs go up. And companies become more vulnerable to competitors.

Within a transparent work culture, where people have access to the information, knowledge, and resources they need, the possibility for consistent, quick decision-making greatly increases. And although it takes effort to maintain an open, honest environment where quick decision-making is the norm, it’s a worthwhile effort. Quick decision-making can help transform your business. 

Why quick, consistent decision-making matters

Being able to make sound decisions without doubt, hesitation, or procrastination is almost like a superpower. While most people go back and forth contemplating their choices, those who feel more comfortable with making quick decisions meet deadlines, deliver results and get noticed. 

Despite its many benefits, quick decision-making doesn’t come naturally to most of us. A recent McKinsey report of more than 1,200 managers suggests the process of quick decision-making is a broken one. Consider this: 

  • Only 20% of respondents say their organizations excel at decision-making.
  • Fewer than half of the respondents say decisions are made in a timely manner.
  • 61% say that at least half the time spent making decisions is ineffective. 

The opportunity costs of not making quick decisions in a consistent manner are staggering. According to that same report, for a typical Fortune 500 company, about 530,000 days of managers’ time is potentially squandered annually, which comes out to roughly the equivalent of $250 million in wasted labor costs.

The research also suggests that high-quality, quick decision-making is strongly associated with overall company performance. This runs counter to the notion that consistent decision-making involves constant deliberation. Survey respondents also revealed that organizations known for making quick decisions are 2x as likely to make high-quality decisions vs. those who act slowly.

The advantages of making a quick decision are obvious, but learning how to quickly get better at quick decision-making is decidedly less so. Unless of course, you use the right methods.

4 keys to quick decision-making

Not surprisingly, consistent decision-making doesn’t come easily or naturally to most people. And when it comes to quick decision-making, gaining that ability can feel even more elusive. But just like any skill, making quick decisions is something anyone can learn with these key strategies.    

1. Get the input of those involved 

Too often, people equate high-quality, consistent decision-making with the need for widespread approval or consensus from their team. Yet, regardless of how enjoyable mutual agreement can seem at the moment, the level of compromise, effort, and restraint it requires comes at a cost. This often leads to making a decision that everyone’s okay with but no one really feels strongly about.

Arriving at a unanimous business decision within any organization is also characteristically slow and tedious. If your goal is quick decision-making, focus your attention on the people who are actually involved with the choice you’re making or are otherwise in a position to meaningfully contribute.

2. Make sure meetings are productive 

Seeking out and gathering together the right people for a quick decision-making session is only the beginning. If you’re hoping for a fast, consistent decision-making process, it helps to keep things focused and on track by preparing an agenda. 

Studies show that 63% of meetings are conducted without a pre-planned agenda. Without one, meetings lack a focal point for setting the schedule and planning for the discussion, outlining goals and identifying priorities, or listing attendees and assigning topics.

When it comes to improving quick decision-making, an effective meeting agenda can:

  • Reduce time spent in the meeting
  • Prepare attendees for the discussion
  • Encourage thoughtful participation 
  • Prioritize the most important topics
  • Record next steps for taking action 

When the discussion veers to unrelated matters or random conversations, your meeting agenda can redirect the conversation back to your topic.

quick decision-making

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3. Document processes for all to access

Every organization has its very own system of rules, requirements, or procedures for how things should be done, along with resources and data for everyone to reference to make work easier.

But if this process documentation isn’t in a place that’s centralized and easily accessible, they often get overlooked, underutilized, or dismissed. This can cause conflict, confusion, and mistakes and the loss of quick, consistent decision-making. 

Establishing a single source of truth for your organization helps to improve team processes and its quick decision-making abilities. Not only knowing where to find your files but that they’re also up to date inspires confidence and cuts down on wasted time. 

With a cloud-based solution like Lucidchart, you no longer have to worry about lost or conflicting versions of documents. Collaborators can add feedback using comments right in the document. 

To ensure that team members can see, align with, and act upon the quick decision-making being made on the project, you can drop an @mention in the comment to prompt an email notification. In Lucidchart, Revision History can be accessed to see what changes were made and when.

With the document status feature, each document in your library is assigned a status like draft, pending approval, or approved which can be updated as needed. Anyone with access can see a document’s status, but only those with editing privileges can change it to keep decisions sound.

4. Get new team members up to speed 

Building and maintaining a thriving work environment where quick, consistent decision-making is possible really comes down to providing your team with a living blueprint of your business. Your single source of truth forms the framework for your company’s needs, goals, and strategic plan.

But keeping it all going also depends on how well your new employees absorb information and adapt to your organization’s way of doing things. Your company’s employee onboarding process should prepare and equip everyone with the knowledge and resources to make quick decisions.

Amid the virtual challenges of working remotely, it’s important to empower your team members to function independently and collaborate freely. Autonomy helps inspire quick decision-making. 

Encourage transparency on your team for consistency and faster learning. Providing immediate feedback reinforces an atmosphere for quick decision-making over indecision. With the ability to systematically identify bottlenecks or refinement needs, making a quick decision is more likely.

Mastering the art of quick decision-making will take time, commitment, and practice. More than anything, it starts by making a quick decision now to prioritize the practice for your organization.

quick decision-making

Lucidchart can be used as a single source of truth for your processes. 

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About Lucidchart

Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidchart.com.

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