Taking decisions in uncertainty
Decisions are an art, not a science. There is no right or wrong answer. Rather, it’s a judgement call based on what you know. I take multiple decisions with limited information as a software product maintenance leader.
Step 1 — What is known
How small and ignorable it is.
For example, in the case of a customer problem that is not progressing, your customers will conclude you are not progressing. Let them know what has been ruled out based on what you know. I think that’s a good start.
Step 2 — Compile trends
If available, evaluate data points from similar decisions. Success in the previous instance may not repeat, but its chances are higher.
Step 3 — Find your community and get help
“Ask five different people what’s going on in orbit…and you’ll probably get ten different answers.” Alternate viewpoints spark discussions.
Decision Time — Moment of truth
After gathering all available information, apply the Pareto principle. Which 20% criteria’s influence 80% of decisions? You will have one or two major points that will help you make your final decision.
Final lesson — One-Way and Two-Way Doors
To optimize for decision quality or speed, consider decisions as either one-way or two-way doors. A two-way door can be easily reversed if you’re wrong, so prioritize decision speed. A one-way door is rarer. You cannot reverse these decisions easily, so gather more information if you are unsure.
You’ll be surprised to realise that most of your decisions are two-way-door, so speed trumps perfection.