The Making of a Decision

Follow up. That is the determining and distinguishing factor between a good decision and a bad one.

An appropriate decision which is not followed up and through can and will inevitably turn into being a bad decision. Conversely, what on reflection may be deemed to have been an inappropriate decision can be converted into a good decision by follow up and astute refinement. Often it is a matter of follow up or foul up.

Thus, the making of a decision is the commencement of a journey not a destination. So many people are intimidated by the need to make a decision, fearing the consequences and being sensitive to the broader possible ramifications.

In an imperfect world, with imperfect information it is improbable that the right decisions will be a matter of consequence and the outcome of contemplation, risk evaluation and deep analysis of all the facts.

With the effluxion of time and an ongoing schedule of monitoring, quantifying and qualifying not only the decision but also the outcomes, outputs and effectiveness can be substantially enhanced.

Seldom does a single decision have its impact and relevance limited solely to its maker. Accordingly, communication of the decision, its consequences, implications, advantages and benefits need to be conveyed to other stakeholders, who have been advantaged and impacted by decisions.


Documenting a decision tree can be challenging, complex and insightful. Considerable advantages accrue from the effort. It highlights the intricate web of relationships which evolve from the initial making of a decision. The nature and importance of relationships are graphically depicted. No decision or person operates in a vacuum.

When the axes of time and people are introduced on a graph, a greater sense and awareness of our interdependence is underscored in those graphics.

The resultant “spider web” of consequential follow up actions necessary for the original intent to be achieved and fulfilled are in stark contrast to a single blank sheet of paper.

The documentation of a decision tree involves thought, time and detail. Most, if not all decisions justify and often are improved with an investment of time and dedication.


A lack of clear, comprehended communication, cultural differences, resistance, and differing stakeholder self interest can and do influence the consequences. In business, as in war and on the sporting arena, the determination of a strategy and related tactics can be a small play in a much bigger game (plan).

In contemporary business countless decisions are made, documented and communicated by email. A lack of follow up to ensure that the communication has been received, understood, accepted and implemented can result in lost opportunities, failure and have subsequential downside consequences.

The relevance, appropriateness and timeliness of the decision made may be an optimal frozen point in time. Without follow up, the risk tolerance for a lack of success increases, often exponentially.

Thus, success for a decision will often be determined not by what is done and made, but rather by what actions follow the actual decision making.

In a time-poor society doing it right, doing it once and doing it now is a widely held philosophy. However, at all times one needs to value the dimension of time.


The channelling of decisions made through and to specific people is inadequate in itself. Too many managers fill their days and nights channelling communication, demands and decisions between senior management, business owners and subordinate staff members. The channel can extend to and involve suppliers, associates, spheres of influence, clients and customers. A true measure of the veracity of a decision is whether it is challenged, revered and possibly refined as it progresses through a channel or network.

Few, if any, decisions warrant and merit unimpeachable and unquestioning adherence. Middle managers should have the delegated authority and responsibility to initiate actions, to ensure optimal performance. That will require subsequent, subordinate and complementary decision making. It is a chain reaction. Not nuclear in nature, with any splitting of atoms, actions or decisions. And no, its not a matter of splitting hairs.

Disturbingly, it seems that little appreciation and tolerance is given to the need for and reality of following actions and decisions which flow from the original decision.

That is a major contributing factor to the lack of comprehension, commitment and adherence to decisions made about the corporate culture, philosophy and mission statements determined by boards of directors, senior management and business owners. Attractively packaged and framed signs declaring and detailing such decisions too often gather dust and are not read.

The scenarios are not restricted to internal company situations. Suppliers, governments, consultants and strategic alliance partners need to be sensitive to the role, importance and cascading consequences of follow up in the successful implementation of a decision.

A willingness and the ability of dynamic, assertive and successful leaders to make decisions cannot be lauded without an appreciation of their capacity, record and intent to follow up. Otherwise, images of elephants, crockery shops and mirrors come readily to mind.

In conclusion, it is in essence true that arriving at a decision is the starting line in a journey to an often indeterminable finish line. However, clearly, with a decision made there is a race on to follow it up.

Now seems to be a good time to make a decision about what one intends to do (and follow up) as a consequence of having read this text.