How To Make The Best Of A Bad Decision

QUESTION:  I am in a position of authority that requires me to make hard decisions that directly influence the success of our business. My fear of making a wrong decision causes me to procrastinate. What do you suggest?

ANSWER:  It has been said that a bad decision is better than no decision at all. While this may sound counter-intuitive, there are lessons to be learned from a decision gone wrong.

As the manager or owner of a business it is your responsibility to steer the ship. Your employees and customers depend on you to make decisions. Do not let yourself fall victim to “analysis paralysis.” This is a disease caused by over thinking every decision.

This is not to say that you should forsake the due diligence necessary to, hopefully, ensure a favorable outcome. By all means do your research, hold meetings with your employees and consider opposing points of view. But in the final analysis, you are the one that must make the hard choices.

As human beings we all want to avoid making mistakes and failure. None of us have all the right answers. I would be less than honest if I told you I never made a bad decision. However, I will tell you that once I determined my mistake, I set about to make the best of it and never make the same mistake again.

That we will make some bad choices is inevitable, but this is all part of a learning process that leaders must endure. Schools don’t teach a course in right decision making. Most of these lessons are learned in the school of “hard knocks.”

To ensure the best outcomes, consider the following:

  • Thoroughly research the issues and try to focus on results. If the pros outweigh the cons, go for it. In the book Art of the Deal, Donald Trump is quoted "If I can live with the worst case scenario, I do the deal."
  • Try to avoid stress. Stress causes one to doubt and over think. When anxiety kicks in, stop what you are doing, go on to something else, and come back refreshed.
  • Reflect on past decisions. Take pride in the ones that went well and remember the lessons learned from those that did not.

Ultimately, the worst decision you can make for your business is to not make any decision at all. Some leaders may be born but most develop through a process of trial and error.


Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Naples Chapter of SCORE. To learn more about management issues facing your small business, contact SCORE Naples. Counseling is provided FREE of charge to all U.S. citizens and legal aliens.  To register call 239-430-0081 or visit our web site . A counselor will contact you within 48 hours.  Please include your name, email address,  and a contact phone number.