Pizza or pasta?

Or how to speed up a decision making process.

First things first, I am an extremely indecisive person in my personal life. Questions like “do you want pizza or pasta?” or “should I buy this toothbrush green or blue?” are problems that seem impossible to solve. That’s why I’m sure some people will be surprised with the title of this post but, actually, I want to share my thoughts about the importance of making fast decisions (at work), where I think I’m much better at it.

Everybody knows that speed is key when aiming to keep up the pace in the internet/digital sector. If you run a marketplace, an e-commerce site, an app… you know that everything is in a permanent evolution. This implies that you have to be fast and flexible when making changes and when adapting to new situations. And if you don’t run, your competitors will go faster than you.

There will be plenty of times when it will be impossible to develop things as fast as you would like: you have to wait for some information, something needs to be tested, things get broken, bugs appear out of nowhere…that’s life! We have to be able to deal with these types of issues, expedite our processes and still get things done.

But don’t make things more complicated than they already are.

In some companies lots of time is wasted while going around in circles and deliberating. Luckily for us, we work in an environment that allows us to fix things after they are published and made public.

If you are going to make an improvement on your website it’s totally ok to ask your colleagues or your manager (or your manager’s manager — you get the point) for feedback, even if you are the one making the decision. But please note that, usually, when someone is asked for their opinion, they feel the obligation to provide it.

Thus, the more people you ask the less agile you will be. People love to be asked for feedback, they feel that their opinion matters and is relevant. Yet, unfortunately, that is not always true. People’s opinions are not important, what is important is your users’ opinions, and you won’t achieve these asking your manager’s manager. If you want to know which copy fits better on your website’s home page you have to test it with real users. The time you spend internally arguing over “download it now” or “free download” is wasted time.

So, I am taking the liberty of giving some advice to speed up your decision making process, based on my own experience.

If you are a designer/developer:

  • Make decisions. Maybe you should present some options to your manager but do this with confidence and with a preferred option you’re vouching for to speed up the process.
  • Use standards. It’s great to be creative and innovative, but if you want to go faster, use web standards. Also, these have the advantage that they are easy to justify in front of anyone. You can thus shorten the time it takes for your proposal to be approved.
  • Be confident. If you are designing/developing/doing something, it’s because you are prepared to do it and you know what’s best. So don’t be afraid to make some decisions and accept responsibility for your work (positive or negative).

If you are someone in a managerial position or someone who approves stuff:

  • Done is better than perfect. Things can be fixed later and the best way to know if something works is to publish it, even if it’s not perfect. With a first version you may discover that what you released was not a critical feature and you may decide to get rid of it. So, don’t deliberate too much about that copy and just publish it!
  • Let people fail and learn. We are all human and we are going to make some mistakes, and that’s perfectly ok. A failure is always a way to learn. Delegate the decision making process to your team and they will happily learn from their mistakes and go on to become better and stronger.
  • Focus and prioritize. Use your time for important things. You have to be biased towards action and don’t spend too much time in endless meetings that everybody hates.

Time is the most important asset that you have, so decide, be a doer and move fast.

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