How to improve your decision making

Jamie Morley shares a decision making framework to help you make better and more efficient decisions.

Making good decisions is a key responsibility of any leader. As such, Jamie Morley shares a decision making framework to help you make better and more efficient decisions.

Being decisive does not necessarily mean making quick decisions. In addition, quick decisions are not always good ones.

When you have a big decision to make that could have a significant impact, for instance in terms of lost or additional revenue, it is not wise to make a quick decision without doing the appropriate due diligence.

Equally, though, we don’t want to procrastinate over difficult decisions.

It is also not always necessary or helpful to take your time and consider every decision in detail. This isn’t always warranted and your time is limited.

If it is a small matter that will have relatively little impact, make a quick decision and move on.

You need to make decisions in different ways according to the situation. Let’s explore some different possible scenarios.

There are four elements that could influence your decision-making process:

The importance

What is the potential impact of this decision? Could it have a bigger impact than it would initially seem?

An example of this could be pricing. Giving one customer a discount as a favour may seem like a small thing, but if this leads to you having to do the same for many others, the impact becomes significant.

It is important to think through both the immediate and potential impact of decisions as well as the size of that impact.

The urgency

How quickly does the decision have to be made?

When you are in an immediate crisis, decisions often have to be made quickly.

If not, you can take more time to consider your decision.

Expertise and knowledge

Do you have the level of relevant knowledge and expertise to make the decision? Is anyone else better placed to make that decision?

Within a practice, especially a small practice, you as the leader will know a great deal about much of what is happening.

But do you have the specific knowledge and experience to make that decision? Who will the decision impact and who will be responsible for executing it?

The people who will be executing the decision and will likely know the most about it.

The added benefit of this is that it gets the buy in of the person into the decision.

Looking at the elements, you can then decide how you approach making the decision:


If the decision is of significant value and impact, you will want to take more time to consider it.

Especially if you’ve identified you don’t have the necessary knowledge and expertise around the topic.

On the other hand, if the impact and importance is minimal and you have the relevant knowledge, make a quick decision and move on.

If the decision is urgent, it is better to make a quick decision than no decision at all.

Think or feel

You will most likely have a natural bias to either make decisions based on facts and data, or based on what you instinctively feel is right.

Be aware of what your tendency is. How do you typically make decisions?

It makes sense to use a combination of these approaches as often as possible.

Particularly for the big decisions of significant value, be sure to look at the facts and data around the issue.

You should also consider your gut feelings, which will be influenced by your previous experience in relevant situations.

If you have considerable and relevant expertise, you can likely trust your gut feeling. If you don’t, it will be even more important to look at the data and facts.

However, if the decision has to be made urgently, you will often have to go with your gut feeling. This is because there isn’t time to collect all the data and facts.

Seek counsel

If you don’t have the relevant knowledge and experience, seek counsel from other team members, an outside adviser, a colleague or somebody in your network.

As a leader, you can feel like you have to make decisions yourself and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It isn’t.

If you have the time, it makes sense to seek counsel from others. Particularly those who will be involved in the execution of the decision.

You should especially seek counsel if it is an important decision that will affect a lot of people and you don’t have extensive experience in the area.

You can see that, through considering the different elements of the situation, you can work out the best approach to making the decision and then make what you think is the best call.

Let’s take an example…

You are deciding whether or not to employ a new treatment coordinator to take responsibility for all your sales and marketing.

Looking at the different determinants above, this is about a seven out of ten in terms of importance. This is because it could have a significant impact on the future growth and success of the practice.

It is relatively urgent, around a six out of ten, as the growth of the practice is stagnating and you want to execute some tactics to kickstart that growth.

You haven’t worked with a treatment coordinator previously so your knowledge and expertise in this area is relatively low, around a four out of ten.

Based on these factors, you conclude that it is important not to rush the decision. However, at the same time you don’t want to procrastinate.

You decide to seek counsel from colleagues who have treatment coordinators to understand how they use them and their impact.

Perhaps you also get advice from or talk through the decision with an external coach.

You also want to discuss it with the practice manager who will be affected by this possible change and who you will task with recruiting and training the treatment coordinator if you decide to go ahead.

Finally, you want to look at some numbers to see the impact this role can have on the financial growth of a dental practice, to get an idea of the return on investment.

A learning experience

From this data and your gut feeling upon reviewing the information and advice, you can decide whether to employ a treatment coordinator or not.

Consider the above framework when making decisions.

We never know for sure if the decision will be right or wrong.

So make a call, execute it fully and learn from what happens.

Jamie Morley is the author of Lead Your Dental Practice available at

Read more from Jamie Morley:

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar