Week 8: How to Become Decision Fit Individually and Organizationally
Introduction: Skills to make you Decision Fit
Right now, you are thinking, I can see that using a process makes sense, but I cannot see myself using the process in real life, especially if I must make a quick decision. Does this mean I have to give up decision quality for the sake of time? Earlier in the class we discussed the three types of decision categories big, significant and in-the-moment. We noted that big and significant decisions were more process or model friendly while the in-the-moment decisions usually do not require a model. We also noted that making quick decisions was part of the agile manager’s life today. So how can we fix the gap? The key is honing our decision reflexes. Here are several major skills that you can use to improve your decision-making skills. The first are solid skills for the individual. The learning skill applies to organizations as well and will be the topic of theme two.
Here are the best skills you need to know:
- Policies and Habits: Be proactive with your decision making and create a policy that you practice until it becomes a habit. For instance, if you know that you may often have to face the question of getting into a car with someone driving who is drunk, create a rule. I refuse to get into cars with people who are or will be driving drunk. Then practice the rule so that if an in-the-moment situation arises that requires that decision, you need not consider the consequences of the decision, but just make it on reflex. The best examples of people who benefit from this type of decision making are public servants like firefighters, police officers, and health care workers. The decision rule is set ahead of time and the decision maker knows just what to do or not to do in the situation. It becomes habit.
- Practice makes perfect or at least increases your chance of making a better-quality decision. The more you practice the MDQ process the better and quicker you become in applying the process to a decision.
- Knowing the Five Elements of the process intimately will allow you to go through the process rapidly for that in the moment decision. A tragic example of how this skill could have saved lives was in Orlando Nightclub shooting. There were six exits to the club, but rather than look for an alternative way out of the building, most people sought the familiar front exit.
- Keep Learning by examining your application of the process for gaps, learning from the outcome of the decision, and reviewing for personal bias.
- Learn to apply the process once quickly to identify any missing ideas or information. Improve those missing links and apply the process more completely the second time.
- Learning from our mistakes and those of others is a valuable tool. All decisions have a degree of uncertainty because they deal with the future and no one knows what that holds. The gap that occurs between our actions and the outcomes is often conflicted by the idea that a bad outcome means a bad decision. It can also be confused with the actions we take to correct the outcome that you deem bad. Hindsight is always better than foresight is the saying but only if the reflection is not about what might have been done differently but about making a disciplined evaluation of what happened and why. We can learn from our own mistakes and successes but also from those of others. Borrowing from the sports coach, here is one way to analyze the outcome to learn the best from the outcome: 1) Carefully observe all that relates to the decision process and the implementation of the outcome (how often to you lean into the pitch?) 2) Introduce one change at a time (change your stance slightly); 3) Carefully evaluate the effect that change has made; and 4) develop a mental model of how to do things better.
- Remain open to learning by developing the habit of asking open questions to understand other people’s perspectives or new ideas. All too often our natural bias to stay in the comfort zone we create for ourselves puts us in a defensive posture with others and new ideas. Develop the habit of asking questions like Why would you conclude this? Or, Do you have evidence for this? Opening ourselves up to other ideas and perspectives is likely to improve our search for alternatives. If you like chocolate ice cream and always get the same flavor cone only to find out they are out of your favorite flavor – rather than not buying ice cream, consider asking is there a learning opportunity here? Could I possibly find a new flavor that I like even more? If the answer is yes, including it in the option discovery or evaluation process is a good idea.
- Encourage discovery and creativity skills by playing games that stimulate the imagination and learning how to brainstorm with others effectively (charades or team games).
- Avoiding decision traps: like decision timing (deciding too early or too late); emotional manipulation or thinking errors like thinking too positively or too negatively.
- Practice Critical thinking skills by playing strategy games or solving problems.(e.g. Risk, Chess, Uno, Bridge)