What You Don't Know About Making Decisions
Introduction (Via Harvard)
Unfortunately superior decision making is distressingly difficult to assess in real time. Successful outcomes—decisions of high quality, made in a timely manner and implemented effectively—can be evaluated only after the fact. But by the time the results are in, it’s normally too late to take corrective action. Is there any way to find out earlier whether you’re on the right track?
There is indeed. The trick, we believe, is to periodically assess the decision-making process, even as it is under way. Scholars now have considerable evidence showing that a small set of process traits is closely linked with superior outcomes. While they are no guarantee of success, their combined presence sharply improves the odds that you’ll make a good decision.
Keys to proper decision making (Via Harvard)
Multiple Alternatives. When groups consider many alternatives, they engage in more thoughtful analysis and usually avoid settling too quickly on the easy, obvious answer.
Assumption Testing. “Facts” come in two varieties: those that have been carefully tested and those that have been merely asserted or assumed. Effective decision-making groups do not confuse the two.
Well-Defined Criteria. Without crisp, clear goals, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing apples with oranges.
Dissent and Debate. David Hume, the great Scottish philosopher, argued persuasively for the merits of debate when he observed that the “truth springs from arguments amongst friends.”
Perceived Fairness. A real-time measure of perceived fairness is the level of participation that’s maintained after a key midpoint or milestone has been reached.
Two Approaches to Decision Making
|Concept of decision making||a contest||collaborative problem solving|
|Purpose of discussion||persuasion and lobbying||testing and evaluation|
|Participants’ role||spokespeople||critical thinkers|
|Patterns of behavior||strive to persuade others
defend your position
|present balanced arguments
remain open to alternatives
accept constructive criticism
|Minority views||discouraged or dismissed||cultivated and valued|
|Outcome||winners and losers||collective ownership|