Leading Complex Decisions

Our Solutions / Leadership Training Programs / Leading Complex Decisions

Leading Complex Decisions

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.   

—Napoleon I


Business Challenge

In organisations today, many leaders have attained their positions partly because of their ability to make the right decisions. Intellectually astute and with solid business experience, they are used to analysing lots of information and making numerous daily decisions with speed and confidence. As they move up to more senior levels, however, these leaders face an array of increasingly complex decisions—and their old
‘analyse, decide and move on’ methods stop working so well.

What makes a decision complex? It could be intellectually difficult, involve a large budget or require heavy analysis of data. More often, however, decisions are socially complex: Perhaps there are many people or groups interested in the outcome, all of whom see the issue differently; or perhaps the issue is surrounded by competing interests, political factors or ‘undiscussables’; or perhaps the implementation of the decision
will require large-scale change and intense commitment from many constituents.

When a leader lacks the skills to manage a complex decision process, the decision stalls and its quality may suffer. When many leaders in an organisation lack these skills:

  • Decision making throughout the firm is slow and hesitant
  • Important issues go unaddressed, because leaders do not know how to frame up and manage a decision-making process
  • People make decisions based on narrow or unsound perspectives
  • Decisions get made that no one really supports—so the implementation suffers

Leading Complex Decisions

Leading Complex Decisions teaches leaders a process, strategies and tools for improving the quality and speed of making complex decisions—and for ensuring that those decisions stick.

Key Content

Key content of Leading Complex Decisions includes:

  • An integrated decision-making framework that includes three overarching Principles of Decision Leadership
  • Decision-making traps to avoid
  • A four-step process for assessing, preparing for, making and implementing strategic decisions
  • A set of tools and techniques to support each step in the process

The module does not focus on the technical side of decision making (statistical analyses, decision trees and
so on), nor on making ‘correct’ decisions for one’s particular business, nor on making everyday decisions
by oneself.

Rather, it focuses on:

  • The process and relationship aspects of decision making
  • Raising the overall quality and speed of making complex decisions
  • Leading groups in making complex decisions

In the session, participants explore a complex case study, analyse business examples and role-play how
they would lead a strategic decision. They also diagnose and plan for a real decision that they need to lead
on the job. They apply the tools and techniques to that decision-making situation and receive feedback on
their skills and ideas. They leave with a Leading Complex Decisions Action Plan for driving their strategic

Target Audience

The audience for Leading Complex Decisions is mid-level leaders in any function or industry. It is not
suitable for frontline managers, team leaders, or individual contributors. (For those audiences, Forum offers
a module titled Collaboration Skills: Creating Value Through People.)


As a result of participating in Leading Complex Decisions, leaders will be able

  • Incorporate the Principles of Decision Leadership to improve both relationships and the decision quality
  • Identify and avoid hidden traps when making decisions
  • Assess their decision situation and determine actions to take
  • Frame the decision to ensure clarity, a shared understanding of the situation and commitment to the
  • Make the decision with consensus or without, as appropriate
  • Check their progress in the decision-making process
  • Leading Complex Decisions is a 1-day classroom programme.
Forum is a global professional services firm that mobilises people to embrace the critical strategies of their organisation and accelerate results. We help senior leaders with urgent strategic agendas equip their organisations to perform, change and grow. Our expertise is built on decades of original research; our business insight keeps companies out ahead of their markets, competitors and customers. Harvard Business Press published Forum’s latest book Strategic Speed in 2010.