How to Make Decisions More Effectively

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

“You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn


Whether you’re in charge of leading a small team or leading the country, making decisions decisively and effectively is key when it comes to successfully moving a company, or country, forward.  


On the flip side, being indecisive or too slow to make the necessary call often translates into devastating consequences, including lost customers, time, money, and in the case of this year’s pandemic – even lost lives. 


After recently watching the latter happen as the U.S. leadership struggled to come to a decision on how to properly deal with the COVID-19 crisis, I couldn’t help but wonder how much better off everyone would have been using the proven RAPID® method when coming to a decision.


Yup, that’s right, another acronym for you to remember. Except for this time around, it’s intended for whenever you need to make smart decisions quickly. 


What RAPID stands for:

Recommend – once valuable input has been gathered, one individual recommends a course of action or presents a series of options to take.

Agree – while open and constructive debates are always welcome, the goal is for all individual(s) to agree on a proposed recommendation. If an individual doesn’t agree with the rest of the group, the final decision maker can sign off on the agreement instead.

Perform – once a decision has been reached, the individual(s) must execute the decision in an efficient and effective way.  

Input – individual(s) are consulted to provide hard facts, data, and evidence that inform the recommendation.

Decide – once all of the options are on the table, a decision must be made by a single individual. However, it’s important to note that non-decision makers still have a responsibility to support the final decision regardless of their personal stance. In short, even if some folks don’t agree, they have to commit to executing the recommendation that has been greenlit by the decision-maker.


Now that you understand what RAPID stands for, let’s take a closer look at the order and 5-day process of actually applying this to a hypothetical decision of whether you as a business owner should allow employees to work from home through fall of 2020 due to the recent pandemic. 


What the RAPID process looks like in action:

Day 1 – 2: Gather all of the necessary input to inform the best recommendation: in other words, talk to your employees to see how they’re feeling about working from home, as well as what kind of impact working from home has on productivity before you set anything in stone. 


Day 2: Make a recommendation based on input: if your recommendation is to extend your company’s work from home policy, make sure your input validates your recommendation. In this case, the majority of your employees would have had to provide positive feedback about working from home, without any noticeable impact on productivity or the work itself. 


Day 3: Agree with your leadership team on this recommendation: think of this as your virtual kumbaya moment to get sign off from the rest of your leadership team on your proposed recommendation of employees working from home through fall. If for whatever reason, there is someone in the group that can’t seem to agree with the recommendation, the key decision-maker (you in this case) can override their disagreement. 


Day 4: Make the final decision: if you’re the key decision-maker, then make it official by letting all parties involved know where you landed. If you’re not the key decision-maker in this process, remember that you still have a responsibility to support the decision that has been made, regardless of your personal viewpoint.


Day 5: Take action: assign an individual(s) to communicate the decision in a timely manner via the proper channels (email, company-wide call, etc.) about the final decision that has been made to have employees work from home through fall.


If you’re already on board with the new RAPID method, but not so sure your team or company will go for it, try applying the same method by gathering input first before you make any recommendations. If your team collectively mentions they don’t feel like they need a new method for decision making, then it might not be the time to bring up a recommendation. However, if your team expresses that decisions take too long to make and are costing the company its customers, the RAPID method might just be a welcomed recommendation.


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