Happy Monday to you. Each decision we make, from getting out of bed to not pressing the snooze button, leads up to another. The average person makes more than 35,000 choices every day. Having good decision-making skills is crucial. Today, I will discuss my approach to making a decision and making it relevant to the situation.
Albert Einstein once said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” Interestingly, it implies a well-defined problem often contains its solution. Thus, defining the problem constitutes the first step in making a decision. Defining a problem requires three steps. Whenever I have to make a key decision, I often write in my notebook, which gives me better clarity. 1) Explore the context: what impact the problem is having and what the consequences are if it is unaddressed. 2) Problem statement: in this step, I elaborate on the problem I am seeking to resolve and write it down in a single sentence. 3) Introspecting: the final step is to explore the reasons for the problem. Toyota had developed the ‘five why’ approach for its Six Sigma process improvement program. Likewise, to get to the source of the problem, I ask myself “why” as many times as required.
Expertise and intuition are two key techniques for making decisions. Oftentimes the cause of the problem is within our grasp. Other times it is for something we do not fully comprehend. For problems within our expertise, we can make a decision immediately. The other type of problem requires analysis of the available data. We should, however, keep in mind that extra information is more than useless. More information leads to confusion. Malcolm Gladwell told us about Goldman’s algorithm in his book Blink. Clinical epidemiologist and cardiologist Lee Goldman spent years collecting, analyzing, and evaluating evidence from hundreds of cases of heart attacks to come up with a simple four-step algorithm. At the most basic level, we should replicate that methodology. When we have analyzed the data completely and are ready to make a decision, we should sleep on that before making that decision. As we sleep on a decision, we think a bit further away from it and often make a more rational decision as a result.
We should encourage ourselves and other people to make decisions with imperfect information. I have seen people spend days analyzing data without taking action. George S. Patton has once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” So focus on choosing good enough instead of overthinking the problem.
The last step to effective decision-making is to constantly improve yourself with the outcomes. Experts recommend that we write down what we expect from the one decision, and set a timeframe to review the decision in 3 to 6 months, depending on the problem. At the end of the period, we should compare the actual results with the expectations. To keep things interesting, during the review we can grade our decision out of 10. In the long run, this simple method will aid us to make better decisions.
You will hopefully be capable to make better decisions with this information. Thanks for reading.
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