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Is a Decision Necessary?

One does not make unnecessary decisions any more than a good surgeon does unnecessary surgery.

Unnecessary decisions not only waste time and resources, but they also threaten to make all decisions ineffectual. Therefore, it is important that you be able to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary decisions. Surgeons provide perhaps the best example of effective decision-making, as they have had to make risk-taking decisions on a daily basis for thousands of years now. Since there is no such thing as risk-free surgery, unnecessary operations must be avoided. The rules used by surgeons to make decisions are:

Rule one: In a condition that is likely to cure itself or to stabilize itself without risk or danger or great pain to the patient, you put it on watch and check regularly. But you don’t cut. To do surgery in such a condition is an unnecessary decision.

Rule two: If the condition is degenerative or life-threatening and there is something you can do, you do it—fast and radically. It is a necessary decision despite the risk.

Rule three: This is the problem in between, and it’s probably the largest single category—the condition that is not degenerative and not life-threatening but still not self-correcting and quite serious. This is where the surgeon has to weigh opportunity against risk. And it is this decision that distinguishes the first-rate surgeon from the also-ran.

ACTION POINT: List three problems you are facing right now. Classify these problems as falling under rules 1, 2, or 3. Do not make unnecessary decisions.

The Effective Executive
The Elements of Decision Making (Corpedia Online Program)

* Source: The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker

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