Making Decisions… Two Questions Must Be Answered First

August 15 2012, By , No Comments

Sometimes the simplest things can seem so difficult to figure out when we are confronted with huge challenges all at once.  Just imagine “rolling up” on-scene of a major fire, with countless lives being threatened, and trying to decide what you should do first.

Whether the challenge deals with managing a project, program, change, or firefighting operation we really can’t start making good decisions on how to proceed until we know the answers to the two questions that must first be answered:

  1.  What is the situation?
  2. What resources are available?

Before any plan can be developed, a thorough knowledge of the current situation and the available resources that can be deployed must be considered.  This type of approach allows us to cut through the noise and to get to the real issues – about which – we must then decide what to do, and what not to do.

Becoming aware of the situation provides us with a starting point to base future decisions.  Knowing the resources available to apply to the situation is the key to sizing-up a plan that will address the best ways to deal with known problems, obstacles and challenges.

When you examine any situation, it is important to identify whether it is static or dynamic.  A static situation means that whatever problem is encountered is not getting any worse – time is on your side for decision making.

A dynamic situation is just like it sounds – things are actively happening, so the longer it takes to solve the problem the more damage will be done.  In this case, time is not on your side and decisions must be made quickly.

When you consider what resources are available, they can be generalized to include people, things, money, and time.   Knowing this very important question allows you to plan accordingly.  Remember, the plan must be based upon the resource availability in order to address the situation and how best to deal with it.

Decision making should be a core competency in every industry, occupation or profession.  We always have choices and must make decisions, whether we are competent at it – or not.   Like any skill, we should always work to improve our own core competencies.

For firefighters, it is important for their success and, very survival, to base all actions on first knowing the situation and what resources are available.  Decision making is a skill and should be valued as such.  Having this simple process to help you make decisions, especially during times of stress, provides for improved outcomes.

So the next time you are confronted with a huge challenge and everyone is looking at you to make a decision – always begin with the two questions that must first be answered.    When done consistently, your decisions will have added value… and so will you.

About the Author:

Tom Pandola is a Leadership Trainer and Consultant delivering real word leadership principles to individuals, business teams and organizations. After 25 years with the LAFD and serving as a captain and battalion chief, Tom moved on to business leadership positions and discovered how the same principles that allowed him to successfully lead others to navigate the dangers and challenges of firefighting and rescue operations, also produces success in everyday business.

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