When the guy wire on the Drop Tower amusement ride snaps just five yards in front of you it sounds like a freshly-oiled bullwhip singing the tune of a quick gust through a wind tunnel. You watch with a half-eaten bratwurst poised before your lips as the tower jerks over, sending a few park-goers plummeting a thousand feet, into a nearby field. A child's scream makes you look to the ride's queued customers. You notice a young girl laying on the ground, holding a pink teddy bear in her right arm. Her left arm has been severed by the wire.

What do you do? Who do you help first?

The necessity to make a quick decision happens to all of us, and while the illustration above might be typical for Superman, thankfully it isn't for the average human. The top cost of the layman's poor decision might be the loss of a coveted business client or an ineffective product launch.

Still, we have 401Ks and pensions at stake here. So let's look at a few steps that can make the odds of a successful outcome when making quick-decisions, more promising by playing a game of "Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light."


RED LIGHT: Stop and ask some Fact Finding Questions.

No matter how many times they say that they needed the answer "yesterday", there is always time to ask a few questions. These questions should include:

-What is your desired outcome? (i.e. the benefits of taking action as opposed to doing nothing)

-What were the past trials and failures?

YELLOW LIGHT: Slow down and Think.

The train hasn't left the station yet. Go home. Take a shower if that's where you do your best thinking, or phone a friend to gain an even more objective opinion . Once you have a general idea of the situation, consider what you think the outcome should be. This might look a little different than what the poser of the question had envisioned, but remember, if you are taking the time out to think, you have a better position of objectivity.

GREEN LIGHT:  Pull the Trigger.

If there is the possibility of a test pilot or trial period, take it. But now is the time for action. Make sure your decision takes into account both short vs. long term repercussions. On the other hand, realize that every contingency isn't important.

In her research on making quick decisions, Acar-Burkay - PhD candidate at BI Norwegian Business School - says that “When you have to make quick decisions, it might be a good thing to focus on closure, but a high need for closure may also lead to decisions that are based on poor judgment.”

If you are asked to make a quick decision, try to take at least a little time to look before you leap.

Written by Nyon Smith, Content Writer for the Dayton Hispanic Chamber