One of the most important skills any IT leader can have is the ability to make a well-qualified decision. When faced with a puzzle in a room full of people, the ability to understand what all of the pieces of the puzzle will look like can be the difference between success and failure. I frequently use a game calledQuestions and Answers with IT leaders when they first start working with me on a new project. We start by asking a series of open ended, off the cuff non-technical questions to determine where we are in the process and where we need to be. When we answer these questions successfully, the end result is the ability to make a well-qualified decision. Ultimately I’m hoping that a good decision means that the work has been completed successfully.

How do you go about making a decision?In my experience, most of us will naturally go through a natural process when faced with a decision. There is a set series of unresolved issues that lead up to the best decision being made. It’s rare that a final decision is made based on something that no longer supports a set of criteria.

If it feels like a no-win situation the odds are higher that you will make the wrong decision. So what we need to do is to make sure that we are focusing on the most relevant issues that need to be answered. Once you have accomplished this, then you is able to move forward with finding the right solution.

There is a natural order to make decisions. If we start from right to left, we will tend to go back and forward on our decisions, yes? If this is your preference it can be a challenge to set deadlines. Remember that there are other people who are waiting to hear the answer to what they had to decide yesterday.

For each topic that we are looking at as a part of making a decision, we need to pull together a set of different alternatives to evaluate. There is no one choice here, there are several. The decision that we make should not be the right solution to all of the problems.

I believe that the most important tool that we can have as leaders of any team is the ability to ask ourselves the right questions consistently. As we ask the right questions, we are able to uncover the different alternatives that we need to consider to support the question that is at hand. Without the right questions, we are just walking blindly through the process. From that point forward you can see that the right questions will follow.

For example, when it comes to dealing with a software problem, we might need to ask what the first set of questions will be:

1. What is my best solution going to be?2. How can I structure an approach to make it happen?3. How do I improve the overall process and the probability of success?4. What has the outcome be at a minimum of 10 days? And how fast is my customer going to sh380?

When we hold ourselves accountable for making decisions based on our assessment of our experience, we are more likely to be able to take the right decisions at the right time.

In a world that is moving at a very fast pace, the cost of making poor decisions are high. In order to maintain an acceptable level of performance, we need to be even better leaders. We need to be able to help our team to be even better than we are now.

In any case, no matter how many decisions you have to make, try to make sure that you are going through the exercise of mitigating every issue that you find.