3 Reasons Business Leaders Make Bad Decisions

by Stephen Danos

How often do you make bad decisions? According to a McKinsey & Company survey, 72 percent of senior-level leaders believe that bad decisions are “about as frequent as good ones” — par for the course across their organization. As a company grows, apparently so does the potential cost of poor decision making.

A man presents during a team meeting in a conference room

At the enterprise level, these undesired outcomes tend to stem from problems caused by increased organizational complexity, murky accountability, and an overabundance of data that cause decision makers to suffer from analysis paralysis.

Getting on the path to better decision making starts with recognizing and addressing these challenges — often with the help of the right enterprise-grade work-execution tool.


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1. Organizational Complexity

An office worker reviews their email on a laptop computer.

Complexity expands as companies have increasingly distributed workforces, and position themselves in global markets. Decision makers in different time zones and countries can fail to align around key decisions in real time.

For example, a visual brand director in Shanghai has a different audience segment than one responsible for North America. Making the brand appeal to local audiences can result in a global brand team at cross-purposes.

Increased complexity can also result in a higher number of decision makers overall, or leaders who get bogged down by individual projects, resulting in unhealthy silos. It’s hard for them to keep up with the pace of their organization.


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As organizations grow more complex, they need the ability to stay apprised of the goings-on across departments — without unproductive email threads and endless meetings that don’t result in action items with urgent deadlines.

One solution: Teams across departments can share the latest information through centralized portals, dashboards, and sheets. Using a platform such as Smartsheet, teams can cut through complexity and unite in the spirit of collaboration.

A Smartsheet portal or dashboard can unify the brand experience — visual, creative, and brand health analysis — for the entire company to see. Automated actions and notifications can be programmed, without any coding skills, in case there is a status change that disparate teams need to know about.


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2. Murky Accountability

A tentatively raised hand

Clear accountability drives business decisions forward — because clear assignments naturally lead to fewer missed deadlines and opportunities. However, the overabundance of digital communication platforms can create confusion over ownership — of information, tasks, projects, budgets, and more.

With disparate internal communication channels and ever-evolving worker responsibilities, there are more decision makers than ever before. Leaders need a way to keep track of who is accountable for decisions and deadlines.


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Smartsheet lets teams manage workflows and connect via integrations with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Workplace for Facebook. The platform also helps teams clarify accountability into deliverables and automates approval processes.

In addition, project owners can be easily identified in Smartsheet team portals and within sheets. Once set up, the owner of the Smartsheet item can easily automate alerts and update requests, so task owners are clear when a dependency is due.

3. Decision Makers Are Overwhelmed by Data

A businesswoman reviews data displayed on a Smartsheet dashboard

While it’s crucial that leaders and stakeholders increase their speed of making quality, high-impact decisions, this doesn’t mean they should settle for less than the most recent, accurate data.

In the business world, being well-versed in data reporting starts with prioritization; being selective about which data points to track, focusing on only the critical KPIs and the right information they need to make impactful decisions.


The Power of Real-Time Data

After teams agree on KPIs and which data to collect, they can turn to Smartsheet to showcase the information in a centralized location. The customizable interface of Smartsheet executive dashboards is easy to understand at a glance, allowing teams to roll up the metrics that leaders and teams care about most into a single view of real-time data.

For example, a sales team can report gross value, the weighted value, and total opportunities in a sales pipeline dashboard for senior-level executives, giving them access to meaningful data they need to make decisions on where to invest resources next. Easy visibility to critical data is key to driving high-quality decisions.

As companies grow, so does the potential for half-baked decisions. With Smartsheet, leaders and teams can be consistent as they expand, get a handle on accountability, and have clear visibility into valuable data and metrics.

Learn more about Smartsheet dashboards by watching our video: