Making better decisions - in search of the seven 'x' factors

What are the best models for good decision making processes at the top levels of business and government?  A research report aims to provide practical guidance on how both business and government can increase their chances of making better business decisions.The report is a result of a collaborative project between Ashridge Business School's Public Leadership Centre and the Whitehall Industry Group.  The researchers interviewed about 60 senior level decision makers in both sectors to explore key decision making processes. They also conducted extensive literature reviews.  The final report, overseen by a high-powered editorial panel, includes some interesting mini-case studies and identifies the critical success (or ‘x') factors for successful decision making.These seven ‘x' factors are:

  • clarity of objectives and goals combined with a well articulated communication strategy
  • early interaction and good communication with trusted stakeholders
  • relentless focus on priority issues
  • good team working with the right mix of expertise, experience and trust
  • providing opportunities for exploration of risks and frank challenge
  • clear, practical implementation with accountability
  • effective evaluation and review
Terminal 5 at HeathrowOne of the case studies included in the report looks decisions made that led to the well publicised problems that befell the 2008 opening of Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5.  The opening experienced a combination of ‘decision-making traps' including over optimism about IT; a reduction in staff training time and insufficiently expressed dissent.A further case study looks at changes made in the training of junior hospital doctors (again ‘over optimism' emerges as a key factor).The report is fascinating reading and is free to download here.