Say you need to make a decision between two options. Time is a factor, so you need to do it quickly. But you don’t have all the information you need — maybe 75% of it. Is it better to decide now, and be on time, or wait until you have all the information?
The other day, I interviewed a guy who works for agribusiness Syngenta. He does leadership training for the company worldwide. And he says there’s a formula for making good decisions under pressure, called the 40/70 Rule. Turns out Colin Powell referred to the rule in his autobiography; it’s a decision-making tactic used in battles. (“So,” you’re thinking, “agribusiness and the military cuddle up with this rule? Tell me more!”)
According to the 40/70 rule, in the situation above, you should make the decision. The rule states that if you have 40% or less of the information you need to make a decision, you probably shouldn’t make it. If you have 70% or more, you need to ask yourself, “Why haven’t I made a decision yet?”
Caveats: You may need more than 70% if making a mistake would be devastating. You may need less than 40% if you’re an expert and see the same trends every time you’re confronted with this situation.
Otherwise, take your 70% and make a decision. And move on.