Is it time to decide for your business?

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At times in our working lives, many of us will have felt frustration at businesses who are struggling to make good strategic decisions. Processes for making decisions on key issues can seem never ending. And when decisions are finally made, they don’t always work out as well as intended. 

It’s therefore unsurprising that being able to make decisions is seen as an important leadership quality, with a recent Forbes article stating that "great leaders make choices and do it courageously". But making good decisions doesn’t just make you a good leader.


A graph of business priorities during the pandemic.

Last year we published a series of "Keep Agile" papers, following surveys completed before and during the pandemic by 500 private sector senior decision makers. 

In the third paper we reported that decision-making ability is now the top ranked measure for organisations seeking to sustain agility as their business grows, and perhaps surprisingly - ahead of the leadership itself.  

Decisive leadership has increased in value, compared to the beginning of the pandemic. The crisis brought decision making to the fore and leaders had to embrace the uncertainty of the situation. They didn't have time to make calculated decisions and often had to make difficult, even radical decisions, in timeframes that would have seemed impossible just months or weeks earlier. A recent article in The New York Times puts the spotlight on the quick decisions some CEOs had to make when COVID hit.

So how can businesses continue to make high quality decisions, even as they grow and the number of stakeholders involved in decision making increases? Clear governance (the G in ESG) is clearly important but within these structures robust decision-making processes are key. 

The times we currently live in might be described as both the best and worst to be a decision maker. On one hand plentiful data, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence can help organisations to make better informed decisions. But on the other, increasing environmental and social responsibilities as well as global uncertainty caused by the pandemic, can leave business leaders wondering which opportunities or risks to make decisions about first.

Global management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company last year highlighted their top tips for making smart decisions quickly in uncertain times. One of the top tips focuses on the importance of involving more stakeholders in decisions in order to encourage different views and debates. This is reflected in our own research paper where we found encouraging evidence of a growing focus on broadening input into strategic decision making across businesses. (Read more about the importance of diversity in decision making in another blog post here).

Peter Drucker, one of the most widely known and influential thinkers on management, similarly noted that that a good rule in decision making is that organisations should not make a decision without disagreement first. He believed that a decision is only well made if it's based on a clash of conflicting views and the choice between different judgements

So, if you want to keep your business agile as it grows, perhaps now’s the time get serious about your decision making. 

If you'd like to read our full research report on leadership and decision making, and find out our five key leadership takeaways, you can access it here.


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Organisations should not make a decision without disagreement first.

Peter Drucker


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