Questions to Ask When Making Difficult Decisions

Some time ago I wrote about leaders having to make decisions with less and less information in our rapidly changing world. Let us revisit that topic based on a formula created by Joseph L Badaracco and published in the September, 2016 HBR.

Badaracco uses 5 questions to help make decisions when trapped in situations that are gray areas with seemingly no good decision.

  1. What are the consequences of all the options? What is the hard reality of the situation with all its implications of who and how it will affect people, their lives and livelihood?
  2. What are your core obligations? Take into consideration your role as a leader to respect and protect the rights and dignity of your fellow human beings
  3. What is the reality of the situation? Seeing the world as it is, warts and all, not how we want it to be. Sub-questions to ask in order to explore this are What is the practicality of the solution you are exploring and how will you bounce back from making the decision?
  4. Who are we? This question makes you think about relationships and the contribution your decision will make in context of the community or group culture you live in.
  5. Can you live with your decision? Your decision must reflect your values and ideals and your comfort with the consequences of the decision.

Making decisions as a leader can have negative consequences, especially when they affect people’s lives. Make sure you make yours thoughtfully.

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