The decision-making process can be daunting, but higher-ed leaders can make it manageable with a few key steps

How to get the most out of your decision-making process


The decision-making process can be daunting, but higher-ed leaders can make it manageable with a few key steps

Billy Graham once said, if you don’t make a decision, time will make it for you and time will always side against you. The timing of decisions is a constant struggle for most educational leaders. Analysis paralysis often plays a part. Particularly in our current cultural environment in most educational institutions, there is a need to try to evaluate any particular decision from a range of perspectives.

Additionally, the general bureaucratic nature of higher education tends to slow down effective decision making. A recent quote from a Midwest college president about shared governance explained it as: “No one is really in charge.” This tends to create situations where decisions are often made after they ideally should have been, or the question is not raised in the correct forum.

As an advisor, students will often ask for information or to clarify some rule that might require a waiver or a supervisor’s approval. If you need to ask someone further up the hierarchy for clarification or for their decision, make sure you let that person know the timeframe that you promised a response to the student. For instance: “I told Student A I would get back to her in a week, so she has time to potentially register for X as an alternative to Y.” This puts you a bit in the driver’s seat, particularly if you provide the supervisor with an outline of the options and your recommendation.

Steven M. Baule, Ed.D., Ph.D.