Most people are not very good at making decisions and that is a serious problem. Not much action begins without a decision.
Let’s look at some of the reasons people offer for not making a decision:
- They think a decision is an event. Done once done forever. Designs that work are process. Always changing.
- I might be wrong. Exactly true. Most decisions need some work to perfect them afterwards. There is nothing wrong with starting with a candidate decision and adding improvements as it develops.
- There might be a better one. Fear of missing out costs. A reasonably good decision now beats a very good decision some time in the distant future. You cannot begin to learn until the decision is in place.
- I need to check with others. Most people do not seek advice to guide their decision. They seek someone to agree with them. That minimizes the psychological cost if it turns out wrong. People who disagree with them increase their potential cost and they usually don’t change much anyway. No point seeking out those folks.
- I want someone else to blame if it turns out wrong. Like picking a restaurant. “You Decide” and “I Don’t Care” should be franchised and on every corner.
- There are too many choices. Again fear of missing out. You cannot be wrong if there is but one choice. Like what’s for supper when we were children.
Not enough experience with decisions makes it harder to ever be good at it. Designs should include measurement and review.
- No feedback built in. There is little to fear from bad decisions if you can tell quickly enough that you are wrong. Good decisions run a long time and if you cut off bad ones quickly, it balances out in your favour.
- Too much attention to making it work. If you do not have to prove yourself with every decision, mistakes are allowed. It is your lifetime record that matters, not this one decision,
- Picking style over substance. Like pleasant looking, charismatic leaders over ones who can actually govern.
If you think being smart helps make good decisions you might be in for a surprise. One thing noticeable is smart people sometimes make decisions that are spectacularly wrong.
Everyone can be better. Make a candidate decision once you have a feel. Stay alert for new information. Learn and change. The best decisions evolve.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772