90% of all organisational (and personal) failures, can be attributed to poor decision-making. As a successful professional you would realise that your clients and supervisors pay you for your expertise and judgment. They are looking for sound advice on important issues.
You probably also realize that making the right decision is not always an easy task. How many times have you sweated over the right course of action? You’re not alone. It’s hard work – one study on expert decision-making found that accuracy was as low as 60% - little better than flipping a coin!
One problem is that while our long-term memory can hold billions of ‘bits’ of information, our short-term memory, which is crucial to decision-making, generally holds only 7 ‘bits’, of information. Unfortunately, in many important decisions, we need to consider more than 5 - 9 pieces information.
But don’t despair - there are a number of things you can do to improve your decision-making accuracy:
Develop criteria for decisions you need to make repeatedly.
Keep records of how the decisions panned out. When did you get it right or wrong? How can you adjust the criteria to be more accurate in future?
For a particular course of action draw up a page with all the pros and cons.
Now go through and cancel out all those of roughly equal weight - are you left with more of one or the other? This may sound simple, but it’s the method used by Benjamin Franklin.
Work in teams.
Groups tend to make the better decisions (it’s because collectively they consider a wider range of factors).
Create a Mind Map© of the decision and all relevant criteria.
Mind maps are the best way of organising your thoughts ever conceived and have been used for everything from rebuilding Manhattan after 9/11 to preparing for a presentation (I do all my course and talk outlines with mind maps). It’s easy and quick to learn (Get in touch if you’d like to have us teach your staff this valuable skill).
Leave it to Your Unconscious
Go over all the information and options – then ask yourself the question you want answered and then put it out of your head. That’s right – forget about it! Over the next few days the answer will come to you. Just make sure you listen when it does as it is easy to train yourself not to listen to your intuition. If you don’t get an answer ask yourself “What more do I need to answer this question?” There is science behind this – you’re clearing out your short-term brain space for more or new information to come in.
Questions/comments/other suggestions? Always happy to hear them.
Cris has dozens of other strategies for improving decision-making. If making great decisions is essential for you, or your organisation success – get in touch with Cris for 1:1 coaching, or to work with your team. His many programs include “Improving Judgement and Decision-Making”, and “Work Smarter. Cris: firstname.lastname@example.org or (+ 61) 0438 545 607.