Tips & Traps

Top 10 Tips for Making a Wise Decision

1. Identify exactly what the problem is that the decision will solve. Be certain you are addressing the real problem.
2. Ask yourself what goals will the decision further. Will the decision be congruent with your business or life plan? Will it help you achieve your objectives? Will the decision be in line with your values?
3. Establish the criteria for a successful decision. Use a criteria filter to eliminate unacceptable alternatives.
4. Learn everything you can about the problem, but set realistic time limits for gathering information. Acknowledge that you may need to make your decision without having all of the facts and as much time as you would like.
5. Brainstorm. List all alternative solutions you can think of, then create new alternatives. The more you investigate your alternatives, the more ideas that will come to you and the more alternatives you will discover. The more alternatives you have the better your decision will be.
6. Don’t overestimate your abilities. The human brain has a limited ability to assess and compare data, use pen and paper tools to help you compare and evaluate alternatives and predict and compare probable outcomes.
7. Use your intuition to help develop and evaluate alternatives. A good decision-maker uses both the logical left and the creative/intuitive right side of the brain to solve a problem.
8. If your preferred alternative doesn’t feel right, there is probably a good reason. Don’t change your decision based solely on your intuition, but go back and figure out why you feel uneasy about your choice.
9. Make the best decision you can within the limitations of the information available to you and your time frame. You seldom have all the time and information you want.
10. If the decision clearly turns out to be wrong, don’t hesitate to change course. Don’t let your ego interfere; the decision and its outcome are separate. A good decision may have a bad outcome and a poor decision may have a good outcome.

Top 10 Decision Traps to Avoid

1. Plunging into the decision process. Take the time to plan how to make the decision.
2. Overconfidence in your judgment. Don’t fail to collect key factual information because you rely on false assumptions or are unaware of the existence or extent of your biases.
3. Trying to keep all of the information in your head. Write it down; pen & paper and a few simple decision tools will help to keep everything clear.
4. Abdicating your decision to an expert. Determine what facts the expert used in developing his opinion & then decide for yourself if you agree with him.
5. Making a decision under an unreasonable time limit. Rarely are time limits nonnegotiable. Give yourself plenty of time to work through the process.
6. Making a decision based solely on emotion or making a decision while under severe stress or depression. Your judgment, memory and cognitive ability are diminished.
7. Ignoring your intuition and making a decision by just using your brain. If it doesn’t feel right there is a reason. Investigate.
8. Choosing the first alternative that appears to work, the trial and error approach. Keep working, the more choices you have, the better your decision will be.
9. Trying to tackle the whole decision at once. Break the decision making process into steps and work through them in order.
10. Not following through. It is not enough just to decide, you must implement your decision, monitor it and make any necessary corrections.