How effective is your decision making process?

How efffective is your decision making process? Our decisions shape our lives.  Made  consciously or unconsciously, with good or bad consequences, they represent the fundamental tool we use in facing the opportunities, the challenges, and the uncertainties of life.

 Sometimes we make decisions too quickly,  or too slowly, or too arbitrarily. The result: a mediocre choice, dependent on luck for success.  It’s only afterwards that we realize we could have made a smarter choice and by then it’s too late.

The only way to really raise your odds of making a good decision is to learn to use a good decision-making process one that gets you to the best solution with a minimal loss of time, energy, money and composure.

An effective decision-making process will fulfill these six criteria:

  1. It focuses on what’s important
  2. It is logical and consistent
  3. It acknowledges both subjective and objective factors and blend analytical with intuitive thinking
  4. It requires only as much information and analysis as is necessary to resolve a particular dilemma
  5. It encourages and guides the gathering of relevant information and informed option.
  6. It is straight forward, reliable, easy to use , and flexible

A decision-making approach that addresses these criteria can be practiced on decisions major and minor: what movie to see? What car to buy? What vacation to take?

The more you use such an approach, the more efficient and effective it will become.  As you grow more skilled and you confidence grows, making decision will become second nature to you.  In fact you may find your friends and associates asking you for help and advice with their tough choices.

There are eight elements of making a smart decision, which will resolve a complex decision situation by breaking it down into these elements and think systematically about each one, focusing on those that are keys to your particular situation.

  1. Work on the right decision problem: the way your frame your decision at the outset can make all the difference.  To choose well, you need to state your decision problems carefully, acknowledging their complexity and avoiding unwarranted assumptions and option-limiting prejudices.
  2. Specify your objective:  you decision should get you where you want to go.  Ask yourself what you most want to accomplish and which of your interests, values, concerns, fears, and aspirations are more relevant to achieving your goal.  Thinking through your objectives will give direction to your decision making.
  3. Create imaginative alternatives: your alternatives represent the different course of action you have to choose from. If you didn’t have different alternatives, you wouldn’t be facing a decision. But have you considered all the alternatives or at least a wide range of creative and desirable one? Remember: your decision can be not better than you best alternative
  4. Understand the consequences:  how well do your alternatives satisfy your objectives? The consequences of each alternative will help you to identify those that best meet your objectives, all of your objectives
  5. Grapple with your tradeoffs:  different alternatives fulfill different constellations of objectives. Your task is to choose intelligently among the less-than-perfect possibilities.  To do so, you need to set priorities by openly addressing the need for tradeoffs among competing objectives.
  6. Clarify your uncertainties: uncertainty makes choosing far more difficult. But effective decisions making demands that you confront uncertainty, judging the likelihood of different outcomes and assessing their possible impacts.
  7. Think hard about your risk tolerance: People vary in their risk tolerance and, depending on the stakes involved is the risk they will accept from one decision to the next.  A conscious awareness of your willingness to accept risk will make your decision-making process smoother and more effective.  It will help you choose an alternative with the right level of risk for you
  8. Consider linked decisions:  what you decide today could influence your choices tomorrow and what your goals for tomorrow should influence your choices today.  Thus many important decisions are liked over time. The key to dealing effectively with lined decisions is to isolate and resolve near-term issues while gathering the information needed to resolve those that will arise later.

The eight elements provide a framework that can profoundly redirect your decision making, enriching your possibilities and increasing your chances of finding a stratifying solution.

-Smart Choices A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions