How Do You Manage Your 5/5/5?

Hustle and hubbub at the DMEXCO tradeshow in Cologne. As I enter a large tent a little off to the side, the noise subsides. A panel of women is talking about success. I slink onto a barstool and listen.

I like to make decisions, a panelist says. Even if they may turn out to not have been ideal. After a pause, she elaborates:

There are the 5-minute decisions. 5-hour decisions. 5-month decisions. You just have to know …

Yes, know which is which. The 5/5/5. An entrepreneur’s code on the context of deciding and the speed of getting it done. I am an instant convert. Consider me a 5/5/5er.

Easier for an entrepreneur, agreed. Decisions in large corporate entities can get mired in layers of stakeholder consultation. The larger the organization, the more alignment is required. No surprise; every corporation I work with who brought in McKinsey Consulting for an organizational diagnostic got the same advice: Make decisions faster.

Traditional instruction on how to make decisions emphasizes a highly analytical, deductive process for arriving at the “best” decision. Thorough. Detailed. A single micro-process for every decision-making situation. Little context. No 5/5/5.

Outmoded and time-consuming. Cementing the not-making-decisions-fast-enough rut.

The root of individual and collective indecision? Our fear of not having enough information. Our story of who “should” be involved in the decision. The fear of making the wrong decision. The notion that there is a perfect decision. The illusion that outcomes can be controlled.

How do you make decisions differently? Get your analytics faster. Consult only data that matters. Listen to your gut and don’t overthink. If you lead others, enable trickle-up decision-making with instant ownership. And yes, be vigilant about your 5/5/5.

Don’t turn a 5-minute decision into a 5-hour decision. Don’t turn a 5-hour decision into 5-month decision. Don’t trivialize a 5-month decision by acting on a whim.

About to make a decision? Know which is which. We don’t always get the outcomes we desire, but we can start by getting the context right. And while you’re at it, dump the root of the root. Decision-dread.

I like making decisions, my panelist in Cologne proudly proclaims.

She got it right, of course. Claim your decision-joy. That’s where it begins.

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Achim Nowak is an author, speaker, C-Suite coach, international authority on personal presence. His book "The Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World" (New Page Books) has just been published. His previous books have become prized resources for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives around the globe. Achim and his work have been featured on 60 Minutes, Fox News, NPR, in The New York Times and The Miami Herald.