Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Timely decisions


What does it take to make the right decision? According to a recent post by Seth Godin, the key to making decisions is not time:

First rule of decision making: More time does not create better decisions. In fact, it usually decreases the quality of the decision.

So if taking more time decreases the quality of your decisions, what can you do to increase it? Seth goes on to say:

Deciding now frees up your most valuable asset, time, so you can go work on something else. What happens if, starting today, you make every decision as soon as you have a reasonable amount of data?

Acquire the data you need and sort it out quickly. Make the decision and move forward confidently.

“Leadership is an action, not a position.” ~ Donald H. McGannon

Do not let time get in the way of timely decisions.

The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you have to sort through a lot of data. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Be decisive.

3 thoughts on “Timely decisions

  1. During my sales training early on, I was taught that there were 5 things that a person needs in order to make a decision. Quality information, Autonomy of decision making, Motivation to make a decision, Confidence in decision ability, and a Recognized value system for decision making.

    None of the things that a person needs to make a decision included time.

    If you find that you or your company is having a hard time making quick decisions, it is probably because one or more of these items is occurring. As a product manager, make sure that those that you are relying on to make a decision have these five items in place.

  2. Making a decision allows you to use the rest of your time to influence the outcomes of that decision.

    The Donner party should have stopped in the fall to construct a settlement, cut wood, hunted, etc. Instead, they delayed, so they…. Well, you know the rest.

    If you make your decisions about and clearly state your requirements on time, then dev can deliver them on plan. If you hedged your decisions about requirements thinking you could sort it out later, then dev certainly can’t deliver them on plan. Further, you will spend a lot more time doing remediation in reactive mode.

    Get to proactiveness as soon as you can. It grants your time to influence, plans that work, and a good night’s sleep.

  3. @Byron, I completely agree. With at least four of the five things you list, people/companies can establish them as ongoing processes so they do not have to spend much time thinking about them. The five definitely apply to product management.

    @David, you offer a great example of how not to make decisions. Fortunately most of our decisions these days do not have similar, tragic consequences. The principle, however, applies the same regardless of the consequences. ‘Proactiveness’ is definitely the state you want to get to.

    Thank you both for your comments!

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