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Can’t Decide How To Decide? Here’s How – Part 1

I have often received feedback that I am decisive to the point of sometimes being seen as impulsive. But then I have also often been told I am too cautious and analytical. Some have seen me as firm, resolute, and unwavering, others complain that I flipflop like a trout. How to reconcile these extremes? Easy. Here are my previously undisclosed decision-making secrets to those who struggle. Note to select former bosses: you know who you are. (This is Part 1, the framework for approaching a decision. Part 2 will review decision-making process).

When facing a decision, decide to review the following before deciding.

  1. First decide: is this an important decision? If no, go to 2. If yes, go to 3.
  2. Not important? Just decide. Do it. Don’t look back. Spend no time on the unimportant.
  3. Important? In what time frame, short term or long? If short, go to 4. If long, go to 5.
  4. Important over a limited time frame? a) Decide whether you need more information. b) If no, decide and go to f). c) If yes, decide when you need to decide. d) Get required information until either you have it or run out of decision-making time. e) Decide. f) Get ‘er done. g) Never forget what game you’re in (important, but not for forever) so don’t second guess. You decided. Live with it. h) But still, learn and note what you’ll do differently next time.
  5. Important for a long time? Now it gets complicated. a) Decide whether you need more information. b) If no, decide and go to f). c) If yes, decide when you need to decide. d) Get required information until either you have it or run out of decision-making time. e) Decide, and list the assumptions that fed the decision. f) Act. g) Monitor the assumptions. If something changes, revisit the decision. Remember what game you’re in (it’s important and will stay important). h) Work the plan, monitor assumptions vs reality, track results vs plan, keep learning, keep course-correcting. h) Never be afraid to change your mind, pull the plug, and start over. Because you now have information that didn’t exist before, and you haven’t forgotten what game you’re in.

Clear? There will be a test later. For now, you’ve got to ask yourself one questions. “Is it important?” Well is it, punk?

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3 Responses to “Can’t Decide How To Decide? Here’s How – Part 1”

  1. Toby says:

    I like it. I follow a decision matrix dimilar to yours intrinsically, but it's good to see it spelled out!

  2. m p friedman says:

    Of course, there are other effective methods: coin toss, loudest voice in the room, deciding by not deciding… ;-)

  3. [...] I have blogged extensively on decision process, including identifying types of decisions, progressing towards the decision, and balancing opposing points of view to reach a superior [...]

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