Make Smart Decisions Quickly

By Aliah Wright Jun 17, 2013
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CHICAGO--How do you make a smart decision quickly? Trust your instincts. So said professional speaker and trainer Nikita Devereaux during her Super Sunday session,“Fearless Leadership: How to Make Smart Decisions in Less Than 60 Seconds.”

The owner of It’s a Smart Decision! spoke to about 1,000 attendees at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition.

“Smart decisions are quick but informed; they choose between good and best, rather than good and bad,” she explained, adding that “when you make a smart decision you need to acknowledge the consequences.”

Quick decision-making is a critical skill, especially for leaders. Devereaux pointed to a 2012 Harvard Business Review survey of CEOs, in which 61 percent said they believe that not making quick decisions hinders their performance.

“There is a way to make decisions, clearly organize thinking and increase confidence,” she said. “You should define what makes a smart decision, analyze how your current thinking patterns impact those decisions, and outline and apply this concept to your work and life.”

Decision-makers should consider multiple perspectives when weighing decisions and should trust their instincts, as well.

“There are really only two options,” she said. One is to apply logic and reason, and the other is to “play by instinct—it involves our feelings and emotion, and that’s scary.” But “you should make decisions that are emotional,” Devereaux emphasized. “You should trust your gut,” she added, noting that “there is some science behind instinct.”

The anterior cingulate cortex, Devereaux explained, is the part of our brain that regulates error. “We get signals; our heart beats faster. You know when you get that bad feeling? Well, that’s why.”

She said people should consider multiple perspectives when making decisions. Quick decisions are often based on trusting your instincts and your experience. Giving examples, she told the audience that just as football players must make split-second decisions on the field and police officers must consider the danger when making quick decisions, both rely on experience when doing so.

Police officers “go through drill after drill after drill … in the academy and in refresher courses, and the reason they do that is so when that call comes over … they can just act with instinct. They don’t take time to think about it—they’ve done the drills; they’ve done the work. That is what instinct is about.”

Aliah Wright is an editor/online manager for SHRM.

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