Make Better Decisions

Make Better Decisions

Like almost everything else, decision making is a skill that we can improve with practice. The biggest problem is that with hindsight, we tend to judge our decisions by the outcome rather than the process we used [if there even was one!].

The first stage is to look at where we might be going wrong. In their book ‘Decisive’, Chip and Dan Heath find four common ‘villains’ in our decision making process – and offer solutions to each:

VILLAINSOLUTION
NARROW FRAMING
We haven’t fully understood the problem
WIDEN YOUR OPTIONS
Expand your understanding and choices
CONFIRMATION BIAS
Seeking information that confirms existing beliefs
TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
Find people who disagree with the suggested solution(s)
SHORT-TERM EMOTION
“This solution takes away my pain NOW!”
GET SOME DISTANCE
Don’t react immediately – think longer term
OVERCONFIDENCE
We think we know more than we actually do
PREPARE TO BE WRONG
Accept we can never anticipate every possible outcome

When thinking about the choices we have to make, the first thing we need to ascertain is – how important is this decision? How much time and effort should I be investing? Shane Parrish at Farnam St offers this helpful matrix for helping us decide:

Having decided there is an important decision to be made, we can then use the following system:

  1. Accurately define the problem
  2. Identify and weigh criteria
  3. Consider the alternatives

However much we prepare, life will always throw the occasional curveball – but taking a more considered approach to our process will help us make more effective decisions.

“All decision making is a values-clarifying exercise.”

Tony Robbins