Decision Making

People sitting at table making decisions
By Ben Montgomery*

In the marketing world, we have a saying that goes something like this: “If you don’t make an effort to define your own brand, your market will happily do the work for you.”

The point, of course, is that your clinic has a brand regardless of whether or not you actively participate in creating one. So, if you want to control your own brand message, your best course is to embrace the process of establishing your brand—even if it’s a difficult thing to do.

On a broader scale, decision making falls into this category as well. Putting in the work to make key decisions when strategically planning for your clinic’s future ensures you are effecting change—hopefully in favor of growth and success—rather than simply absorbing it.

Needless to say, in a world where change is inevitable, being able to make thoughtful, strategic decisions is an essential part of running a successful practice. And yet, making key decisions can be hard—paralyzing, even—when you consider that the future success of the clinic can be hanging in the balance. This is why the recent article titled “These are the reasons you can never make a decision” caught my eye on the Fast Company website.1 The article highlights six of the most common decision-making obstacles, then offers some advice on how to avoid or overcome each of them.

The Fast Company article takes its cue from a study published in the journal Science,2 which analyzes the cognitive and neurobiological processes that influence leadership qualities and one’s ability to make (or willingness to delegate) important decisions.

I highly recommend you read both the article and the study as they will no doubt help reveal why you sometimes struggle to pick the optimal path toward success. Below I highlight a couple of the barriers featured in the article and will provide some clinic-related examples that help illustrate the issues.

Putting Too Much Importance in Your “Anchor”

When it comes to decision making, an “anchor” is something that keeps you from moving forward with your final determination. Sometimes, we place a disproportionate amount of importance in our anchors, causing us to forget to ask ourselves, “Is this detail going to get me more clients? Is it going to affect my growth and help me be more successful?”

While we like to tell ourselves that all details are of equal importance, the fact is that some anchors just aren’t important enough to hold back a broader, more important strategy. Think about the issue of clinic branding described previously. Should you let indecision about, say, the shade of blue in your logo or the header photo on your website keep you from rolling out an entire branding campaign? Probably not.

Confirmation Bias

Most of us have probably heard of confirmation bias in the news when it comes to political philosophy and debate. Well, this can also affect the way we do business and make decisions, clouding our ability to consider things from different viewpoints.

In the clinic, avoiding confirmation bias can not only help us make better decisions but also help us communicate better with current and potential patients. It can keep us from making assumptions about people in our communities (e.g., people with back pain want to know how manual therapy can help them), allowing us to better offer them solutions that matter most to them (e.g., people with back pain want to be able to hold their new grandchild).

The article in Fast Company offers the author’s own perspectives on these and four other obstacles to decision making. You’ll no doubt find these perspectives valuable as you work through the strategic planning process at your clinic.


1 Accessed November 2018.

2 Accessed November 2018.

Ben Montgomery

Ben Montgomery is a former journalist who applies years of copywriting and message development experience toward serving physical therapists through, the marketing services arm of Vantage Clinical Solutions, serving private practice clinicians with content marketing and web development solutions. He can be reached at

*The author has a vested interest in this subject.

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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