Column: Making executive decisions


Commentary by Paula Presnoples

Corporate executives, leaders of groups and individuals all make decisions as a matter of course.  We all make many executive decisions every day. Studies have shown that successful executives make more decisions than their less successful counterparts. It isn’t that they always make the right decisions but they have more chance to be right.  The same is true of everyday life, the more decisions we make the more opportunity we have to make correct decisions.  Plus, decision-making is a skill, the more decisions we make the better we get at it. Aren’t most decisive people successful?

Often we use the Ready, Aim, Fire process.  We get Ready by thinking about what we want the outcome of our decision to be; then we take careful Aim by analyzing all the possible issues and potential pitfalls and once we are satisfied, we Fire.  However this process sometimes leads to paralysis by analysis. We become so embroiled in making the perfect decision we become caught in the quicksand of the Aim step, never firing at all.

Consider using the Ready, Fire, Aim decision-making process.  In this model, we get Ready by considering what we want the outcome to be and we try to prepare as best we can.  Then we Fire knowing that subsequent decisions may be needed to improve outcomes. So we reevaluate and Aim after we understand the result of the firing, making adjustments as needed.  This process creates forward movement toward the goal and increases our chances of success.

However the Ready, Fire, Aim decision model is not a license for recklessness, because you are still responsible for the outcome. It does prevent falling into the “what if “and “I must be perfect” trap.  Asking “what if” this or that, is great if you are planning contingencies to answer the question.  However if you are just asking questions, there is no value in the exercise.  In addition there is no value in thinking you must make a perfect decision, perfection is an illusion.  The decision making process should be a value-added exercise.

The next time you consider making a change and need to make an executive decision whether it is to change jobs, buy a new house or lead a team or company in a new direction, remember decision-making is a skill that improves over time.

Paula Presnoples, Fishers resident, is a change professional with thirty years experience helping individuals and organizations make and embrace change.  She is the Managing Director of ur path and a coach, certified hypnotist, and trainer serving Geist and Fishers. She can be reached at


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