Seven Steps to Effective Decisions

Nov 13, 2012 | Articles

Various military branches have guidelines for complex operations in stressful environments – which I have adapted to transportation operations.  The last two months of the year are critical for most transportation operations.  Most of our clients are running at capacity, weather is changing, and everyone wants to go on vacation at the same time.

How do you make effective decisions in your operations?  Let me know your thoughts and ideas.  Below are 7 components to consider for your fleet operations:

1.  Analysis.  Conduct an assessment.  Each job, each load is different. 

How critical is it for that load, that postal trip, or that drilling rig to be on site, on time?  You’ve assigned people – how capable are they for this particular job?  What is the risk of weather?   

Develop contingency plans for problems that may arise.

Conduct another assessment when the situation changes.

2.  Situational Awareness.  To make good decisions, we must know what’s going on around us.  Plans are critical to success, but we must be ready to change those plans when the situation changes.   

Some examples; you have planned a lengthy postal run with 5 driver changes each way.  What are your plans if weather forces the third driver to shut down for 12 hours?  You have 6 people and 3 vehicles servicing an oilwell – what happens to that next scheduled job if the crew gets snowed in for a day? 

Complacency and boredom inhibit our situational awareness, causing us to become lazy, stop monitoring, and not create contingency plans.

Highly stressful situations cause us to hyper focus – in the truck and in the office.  This extraordinary focus causes us to lose sight of what’s going on around us – and to disregard some good advice.  

Maintaining an awareness of our environment helps us to catch those little mistakes before they become big errors.

3.  Adaptability.  With proper situational awareness, we are able to detect and respond to changes cause by driver failures, equipment failures, changing customer demands, or weather events.

Are we flexible, and ready to listen to differing opinions?  Do we think we have all the answers, or do we listen to those who may be closer to the situation than we are?

4.  Communication.  Clear communication is ensuring that people have a clear understanding of what we wish to convey.  It is the sender’s responsibility to make sure communications are received and understood.

However, good communications involves a feedback loop – asking for feedback, monitoring behavior, or watching key performance indicators to make certain the message was received.  In this two-way communications environment created when you ask for feedback, both parties are responsible for the message is received, understood, and effective.

5.  Leadership.  Leaders find a way to accomplish the goal.  Leadership is not about giving orders.  Leadership is not about your position.  Anyone can be a leader – we all have that opportunity.  Through hard work and example, leaders achieve the respect, confidence, collaboration, and loyalty of those we work with.

6.  Assertiveness.  Assertive people care more about the goal, mission, or job.  Aggressive people are motivated by ego or self-image.

Assertiveness is about communicating concerns and striving for a reasonable resolution.

7.  Decision Making.  When we lay the foundation as described in the first 6 steps – we have the information and ability to make good decisions.  Some decisions take 20 seconds, and some take 20 months.  The process remains the same.

About the Author


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