Making Better Decisions

Author: Paul Henriques in: Food for Thought

Making Better Decisions

June 15, 2022

In manufacturing, there are good decisions and bad decisions. The problem may be understanding where your decisions falls. Was it a decision with a great long-term payoff that improves your productivity and profit? Or was it a short-term decision that improves your next quarter result at the cost of millions in added expenses by the time your close the books for the year?

Making the best decision often requires some time and inspection. However, some decision-makers will often fall into a trap of believing that as a rational individual and the highest-ranking person that is aware of the problem, the best course of action is to make an immediate decision. This thinking often brings the decision-maker to make a bad default decision type.

Bad Decision Types

The decisions you make should always be focused on your long-term success. It has been found that defaulting to the following decision types tend to net negative long-term positive outcomes:

Quick decisions

Most snap-decisions don’t stand well under review. Rushing in can often have you making a decision based on the wrong information. A decision requires context to the problem you want to solve. Take the time to investigate what you are trying to solve and how others have done the same. This can help flesh out the solution that is the best for the long-term. Deciding quickly narrows your field of view and this can lead to negative results, or added problems, further down the line.

Stalled decisions

Not addressing the problem will merely slow down your ability to respond with an active decision. When a problem presents itself, don’t leave the investigative part of the problem finding for later. Starting to research the root cause of the problem sooner will ensure you are in a position to make the right decision before the problem can grow.

Siloed decisions

Regardless of the level of the problem, you should always involve key stakeholders. By ignoring parts of the problem, and those responsible for implementing a solution, you may solve only part of the problem, or make it worse.

Biased decisions

Surrounding decision-makers with yes-men and ignoring evidence found during investigation and research that is contradictory from what you want to hear is a flaw that can create catastrophic results to a decision that has been made. It can benefit you to look for counter examples and opposite explanations, which will help you reframe the issue in a way that takes you outside the box.

Instinctive decisions

“Go with your gut” shouldn’t be a decision-making stratagem for complicated problems. Important decisions, which can have multiple ramifications, should be investigated thoroughly with the best available data. While humans like to think of themselves as rational beings, the truth is that emotion and bias can often cloud our better judgement, which leads to reactive, or instinctive decisions that may end up not solving the problem at hand.

Linear decisions

Like the Lean PDCA cycle, a good decision is a virtuous cycle that gathers feedback based on live data that allows corrections and compromise.

PDCA cycle

One-track decisions

There’s more than one way to achieve any goal. Having done your due-diligence, uncovered any bias, researched and received feedback, you can also step outside your standard pattern. Moving outside your normal routine can help you see a new and different way to solve a problem.

Overcoming Default Decision Types

Overcoming the gut-instinct and avoiding the default decisions requires some practice. It starts by realizing that the problem you have is:

  • Time-sensitive, but still demands investigation
  • A symptom that may have another cause within a bias that you cannot see
  • Affecting other teams directly or indirectly

In other words, assuming that you know best, it doesn’t involve others, and must be fixed immediately are poor assumptions that can lead to larger problems later. Taking the time to clear your mind to perform a more thorough analysis will improve the solution and may even improve other issues. Taking a stop to clear your thinking can allow you to see the whole picture and improve the path to a better resolution.

When pausing to clear your thoughts, there are three things that can improve the quality and speed of your decision-making:

  • Debating the problem and the solution
  • A good understanding of the tasks and processes where the problem occurred
  • A corporate culture that empowers your employees

You should also be mindful that the decisions should be made at the right level and align with corporate strategy. Once a decision is made, you must commit to the execution to see it through


  • Paul Henriques

    Paul Henriques is the current Manager for the Documentation and Training team at OnRamp Solutions Inc. Paul has over 15 years of experience in writing training material and documentation for various software companies. Having had to learn OnRamp ERP to better document it’s features and write training material; Paul is constantly stunned by the amount of thought that goes into each feature and the capabilities that are within the program, with features for all the various business units of a manufactory. Paul spends most of his free time keeping up to date on all the latest news and best practices for the manufacturing sector. Paul’s favorite manufacturing quote: “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” – Henry Ford

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