Why SPEED is Crucial in Decision-making

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The 4 steps to decision-making mastery.

Decision-making is a vital part of the business world. In fact, everybody makes decisions all day long, some of which we are not even aware of. It is crucial for a good leader to master the art of decision-making. If a manager is decisive about his/her decision, chances are s/he is decisive about the whole approach to management, and employees will respect that. A wrong decision made with conviction often gets high marks from employees.

Making a decision is to do something with 100% commitment to achieve a particular outcome. Regardless of the effort you put into making a decision, you need to accept that some decisions will not be the best possible choice. Even if something does go wrong, your decision was most likely reasonable in the circumstance and given the knowledge you held at the time.

“A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.” ~ Rita Mae Brown


So, what if you make a wrong decision? How can you be sure you have all the facts before you make a decision? Is there an advantage in making a quick decision? Here are my 4 steps to decision-making mastery:


Step 1 - Overcoming procrastination

A fantastic way to track your success record on overcoming procrastination is to measure how many things you already acted upon and implemented after reading and working through these first two parts of the book. How many strategies are already serving you and bringing you closer to your goals? What made sense to you but were left ignored, and you are therefore procrastinating?


Step 2 - Making smart decisions

To make better decisions, you need to first establish what particular outcome you want to achieve. Awareness around your vision and goals is crucial; you need to bring your values to the forefront and give them an important role in your decision-making. When you align your vision, goals and values in this way, your values become your needs, and your needs your motivation. When you consider your values in decision-making, you can be sure to keep your sense of integrity and what you know is right. It builds your authenticity and reputation as an outstanding leader.

Once we realise that a decision we made moves us away from where we want to go, here a few important steps to recover from it:

  • Take full Responsibility. Don’t make excuses, rationalise or pretend that for whatever reason, somebody else is to blame. If you want to move forward, you have to take responsibility for your choices and actions.
  • Understand your choices. Why did you make the decision? Again, this is not a time for excuses, just a time to understand why it happened so you can avoid making similar decisions going forward.
  • Apologise and explain. If you hurt somebody, it is best to apologise and explain. Again, do not offer excuses or play down the situation. Be honest and explain your decision with help from the insights you gained from the previous steps.
  • Focus on the present. Don’t dwell on the bad decision; it is a waste of time. Move forward and focus on what is happening right now. Focus on the positive things you are currently doing instead of the negative ones you have done.
  • Be proactive in the future. When you find that you have knowingly made a bad decision, find ways to be proactive after the fact. What can be changed or fixed now? What can you do in the future to ensure not making similar bad decisions?
Step 3 - Making quick decisions

I agree that for very critical, strategic decisions with high stakes or financial impact, you should indeed take more time and know your facts thoroughly. For the average day-to-day issue of a successful leader, however, you need to make relatively quick decisions once you gathered the critical information. Slow decision-making can murder your momentum, especially during developing opportunities and crisis situations.

“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” ~ Arianna Huffington


How can you avoid over-examining pros and cons, and start making quicker decisions? One method could be the adaption of the SPEED formula, as described by Laura Stack in her ‘The Productivity Pro’ blog:

  • Stop just long enough to gather the intelligence you need to get a handle on an emerging issue
  • Ponder what the issue means for you or your team. If the issue won’t affect you at all, stop here.
  • Educate yourself on the issue as quickly as possible if it does have an impact or consequences.
  • Evaluate what you’ve learned. Talk it over with your inner circle if necessary, but don’t give it too much time.
  • Decide your best course of action and implement it without delay. Usually your first instincts are correct if you’ve been in your role long enough; don’t second-guess yourself too much. You’ll soon learn whether you’ve made the right decision; if not, you can take corrective action.


Step 4 - Making powerful decisions

As Anthony Robbins outlines in his book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’, the following are the key elements of making powerful decisions:

  • Remember the true power of making decisions
  • Realise that the hardest step in achieving anything is making a true commitment – a true decision
  • Make decisions often
  • Learn from your decisions
  • Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach
  • Enjoy making decisions


NOT making a decision is already a decision in itself, because you decide not to make a decision, which is entirely your choice! People often confuse choices with excuses. If you decide to think about it and choose to do nothing, then you are saying (without saying it) that you are quite happy with the way things are. And that’s fine if that is the case.

Ultimately it all boils down to choices, and there are only two types of it in business; ‘Now or ‘Too late’. So, you can either have excuses, or you can have results.


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Martin Probst

AUTHOR | Martin Probst - CEO (Chief Education Officer)


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