What’s even more important than reviewing bad decisions after the fact, and analysing what went wrong?  After all, hindsight is 20/20, right?

It’s wise to take stock when things don’t go our way, when a project fails, when a goal isn’t reached.  And when we do look back, we often find things we could have done differently.  Smart project management methodologies make this a part of their approach by ensuring that there is a final phase after implementation that allows for review and project learnings.

Tactics versus strategy

Often these reviews are about tactics.  They’re about specific things done, specific choices made, that you would make differently next time.

But why was the decision wrong in the first place?  When you’re talking tactics, specific approaches you took on that specific project, then the value of the review becomes quite narrow, because unless you’re going through a similar project again, you may never need to use those same tactics again.

How you make your decisions – in other words, your decision-making strategy – comes into every project you do, every task you take on, no matter what tactics you decide on.

Here are three questions to ask yourself at decision-making time so you can spend less time reviewing, and more time celebrating your success .

Is this sustainable?

I have a staff member who is being disrespectful.  I can choose to ignore the behaviour, or I can choose to address it.  What’s the impact of that decision over time?

The first strategic decision-making question to ask is yourself is if you kept making that same decision, would you be happy with the consequence down the track?  If the answer is yes, you’re likely making a wise decision.  If it’s no, chalk that one up for review time later.

Is this replicable?

Is a task you’re performing causing you to reinvent the wheel?  Is it something that you could create a process for?  And if you can, does that mean someone else can do it?

Once you’ve learned how to do something, the next question to ask yourself is whether you should be doing it.  If someone else can come in and do it just as well, you’re created something replicable and removed the need for one and only one person to do it.

Is this useful?

You can work on project after project, but if you’re working on the wrong things, you’re making bad decisions.

The third question for great decision-making covers if what you’re doing is useful, if it serves a purpose.  Does it move you towards the overall goal that you’re aiming for?

What not to ask

The questions most people ask when making decisions is the wrong question.  They’re asking if making this decision will make their lives easier.

If how easy this will make life for you is a question you ask yourself at decision-time, you’re on the path to long reviews for your many errors.  Because the right decisions generally don’t result in what’s easiest to do.

They result in what works.