Manage the time lag between decisions and their outcomes

We all know intuitively that the decisions that we make today won’t change our businesses or lives immediately.  There is a time lag between the point at which we make a decision (i.e. commit to a specific alternative and commit the resources to realize it) and the point at which that alternative begins to create new value or better outcomes.

Even though I know this is true, it takes discipline to fully exploit this knowledge.  If I treat decisions as targets of opportunity that arise spontaneously out of my situation, i.e. wait for them to pop us as roadblocks that I must overcome, then I will suffer a long delay until I see the benefits of my choice.  The length of this implementation delay will vary widely among the decisions that I face.  For strategic business decisions, it may take years to experience the new and improve outcomes that I envision.  Most business decisions fall into a 3-12 month delay range.  Very few offer the “instant gratification” of results in days or weeks.

In the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF), we explicitly capture the time horizon for every decision and its alternatives.  This allows us to roadmap our decisions to show when each alternative will begin to create value.  These roadmaps can also display the implementation tasks that will have to be completed before the alternatives are realized.

If I want to accelerate the beneficial outcomes of my decisions, I have to:

  • Proactively identify the highest priority decisions that I will face.  In DDSF, we use a Decision Breakdown Structure (DBS) or its filtered subset, a Top 10 Decisions List, to accomplish this.
  • Understand the time context for each of these decisions, i.e. set the start/end dates that represent the “good for” period during which alternatives will create value.
  • Manage the critical path between decision identification and alternative realization. Start decision analysis sooner on the decisions with the longest time horizon and alternatives with the longest implementation delays.
  • Continually refresh my decision roadmap so that important, but long realization-time decisions don’t fall through the cracks.

Managing the decisions that create your future includes managing them proactively with an eye on the calendar.  If you would like to learn how to do this for your enterprise, please contact the Decision Driven® Solutions team at or

About decisiondriven

Innovator in Decision Management, Systems Thinking and System Engineering methods and tools
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