How To Make Hard Decisions In Business

How To Make Hard Decisions In Business

From an aerial view, the trajectories that businesses take might seem like the natural progressions of the markets, and the natural flow of capital. Certainly, there is some truth to this, but just as the tides play a big part in directing ships, there must be a captain calling the shots in order for there to be meaningful direction in the long-term. In the same way, there are constantly decisions being made at all levels of a business, and while some of these decisions might be easy calls, some decisions can be hard to make.

So, how do you go about making these hard decisions? Sometimes, there might not seem a clear path forward, or a clearly correct option, and a decision has to be taken nonetheless. Longevity is ultimately the name of the game, and making sure you’re making the correct decisions can be helped by following a larger plan of action, which can take many forms and Inspirations. Some that we have visited before are OKRs, following a Just Cause, and sticking to strong values.


OKR-Based Decisions

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results, and it is a framework for leadership and decision-making that helps center the bigger picture. More precisely, OKRs help ground larger, overarching goals into more immediate, concrete tasks. The Objective encapsulates more of the abstract and long term, while the Key Results should quantify how this objective can be reached through smaller, direct steps.

There are multiple benefits to OKRs, and two of the most prominent are direction and flexibility. Breaking larger objectives into shorter, more concrete, key results and tasks gives you the flexibility to evaluate and pivot regularly and when needed. If you set a long-term goal and have no short-term ways of evaluating your progress, a mistake might be noticed far too late, and adjusting will look more like damage control than a proactive response.

For longevity and direction, OKRs let you better conceptualize how you get to the long-term. Smaller goals to meet help keep you on track, and this can also help you make difficult decisions. When presented with two or more options and trying to decide which is the “correct” one to choose, a carefully crafted OKR plan should shed some light on which choice is the best. Which option is the best aligned with the overall objective, and with the specific key results that you’re chasing?


Just Cause

Another great guiding light can come from finding and following your just cause. This concept comes from Simon Sinek’s Infinite Game, and talks about finding some cause or purpose that really, truly speaks to you, and upon which you can design your business and direction. If there’s a real issue that you’re passionate about that you can solve or address professionally, it helps make sure your business decisions and efforts follow an innate direction, and have the momentum to carry the business model forward.

When it comes to making difficult decisions, a just cause helps as a baseline measure to judge different options. Ideally, all business decisions that you make should at least be compatible with the just cause driving your entire project. However, some decisions are more critical than others. When these come up, it can be important to remember your just cause, and to consider whether a decision is truly in line with your mission, or whether you’re compromising for the sake of some short-term benefit.


Strong Values

Very similar to the just cause argument, rooting your business, mission, and trajectory in strong core values can also grant you a strong line to follow. If you create a list of non-negotiable values to honor, it can make screening the correct and incorrect decisions a lot easier. If an option flies in the face of some of your core values, it would be an easy bet to avoid that option, even if there are short-term benefits.

At Living Pono, these core values fall in line with some canonical Hawaiian values, which anybody might be wise to adopt. Some of these are the following:

  • Kealahou: a new perspective. How we see things the first time is not always the only way that things might be seen. A weakness in one light may be a strength in another.
  • Oluolu: caring. The care that we put into the world can mean the world to somebody else.
  • Akamai: resourceful. Being able to navigate life’s challenges in both our personal and professional lives is incredibly important, and this means more than just “conventional intelligence.”

No matter what, you are bound to run into difficult decisions at some point. This is simply the nature of doing business in an uncertain economy and an uncertain market. However, these decisions might be made easier with the guiding help of these principles and tools: an OKR framework, a just cause, and a commitment to strong values. 

Living Pono is dedicated to communicating business management concepts with Hawaiian values. Founded by Kevin May,  an established and successful leader and mentor, Living Pono is your destination to learn about how to live your life righteously and how that can have positive effects in your career. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us here. Also, join our mailing list below, so you can be alerted when a new article is released.

Finally, consider following the Living Pono Podcast to listen to episodes about living righteously, business management concepts, and interviews with business leaders.

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