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Making Smart Decisions V1


ebook / slide deck on making better decisions

ebook / slide deck on making better decisions

Published in Health & Medicine , Technology
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  • 1. Making Smarter Decisions Thoughts on making hard decisions more confidently
  • 2.
    • ©2008 DQI, LLC
      • This ebook is protected under the Creative Commons license . No commercial use, no changes. Feel free to share it, post it, print it, or copy it.
      • This ebook is available for free by visiting .
      • Thanks for reading.
      • Kevin Hoffberg
      • Clint Korver
      • Bob Cronin
  • 3.
    • Decisions don’t occur in nature. You don’t find them under rocks or lurking behind trees.
    • Making decisions is a profoundly human activity. Making difficult decisions is a profoundly adult activity.
    • This guide was created to help you better understand how to do that.
  • 4.
    • To make a decision means you will spend your time, money, and attention to get something you want
      • A decision is more than an intention, though intentions are often assumed to be decisions. The distinction is important.
      • For example, you could decide you want to go to the movies tonight. But is that really a decision? Not until you go to the theater, buy the ticket, go inside and sit down. Up until you have made the commitment of your time and money, it is just an intention. You may believe fervently that you are going to go see the latest action movie, but it is not a decision until you go.
  • 5.
    • Some decisions are easy . . . Usually because . . .
      • You’ve made a similar decision before
      • It’s easy to figure out what you really want
      • You have “good” choices
      • The trade-offs are easy to make
      • The “consequences” of making a bad choice seem low
      • You’ll know quickly if you made a bad choice and will have time to fix it
  • 6.
    • For example . . .
    What movie to see What cell phone to buy Should we have chicken tonight? Should we go swimming or hiking? I wonder what book I should buy? What’s the best place to go to see the sunset?
  • 7.
    • Other decisions are difficult . . . Usually because . . .
      • You’ve never made a decision like this before
      • It’s difficult to figure out what you really want
      • None of the choices seem attractive . . . Or maybe you don’t even know what the choices are
      • The “consequences” of making a bad choice seem very high
      • You won’t know right away if you made a bad choice and if you do, you won’t have time to fix it
  • 8.
    • For example . . .
    What movie to see Should I quit my job to take care of my parents? Should we put my mother in a nursing home? Is it time for my parents to stop driving? I wonder where we should go for our family reunion? What’s the best long term care plan to buy?
  • 9.
    • Here are the steps for working through a difficult decision
      • Frame : Figure out the question you really want to answer.
      • People : Find people you judge to be credible and ask them to help.
      • Process : Do the right kind of work. No more, no less.
      • Values : Figure out what you really want as a result of making this decision.
      • Choices : Identify at least three different, interesting alternatives.
      • Information : Gather information that helps you understand the differences between the alternatives.
      • Evaluate : Score each choice against what you want. Make trade-offs between your preferences to find the best choice for you.
  • 10.
    • Frame
      • Figure out the question you really want to answer.
      • We also think of this as “putting a frame” around the problem: Your frame is the problem or opportunity you choose to work.
      • A high quality frame is one that is appropriate to your situation. Appropriateness is a judgment call that is best made when you are able to choose from several different frames.
      • The most important aspect of defining your problem is to simply make time to do it consciously.
      • The second more important aspect is to try out different frames . . . Look at the problem from many different angle.
  • 11.
    • Involve the Right People
      • Find people you judge to be credible and ask them to help.
      • If the decision involves only you, this step is about finding people with knowledge and insights that will help throughout the decision. It could be these people help you see the problem differently. It could be they have insight into what you really want. It could be that they know about choices you don’t.
      • If the decision involves others, then these people need to be included in some way: through their votes, listening to their voices, and perhaps showing them what you’re thinking.
      • In any case, make an effort to also seek out differing points of view.
  • 12.
    • Define the Right Process
      • Do the right kind of work. No more, no less.
      • There is no “right” process to make a decision. The right process is the one that has you doing what is “necessary” and “sufficient” to arrive at a decision you can make confidently.
      • The only rule is that the mechanics of how you will work the decision to conclusion will need to be appropriate to the size, significance, and complexity of the decision.
  • 13.
    • Figure out what you want: Values
      • Figure out what you really want as a result of making this decision.
      • Values, preferences, wants . . . They’re all the same thing. They’re how you tell the difference among alternatives. They are your criteria. They are why you’re making this decision in the first place.
      • For each decision, particularly those involving others, you need to be sure that “wants” are described clearly and distinctly . If those other people have a stake in the outcome of the decision, you may need to account for their wants as well.
      • A good measure of a preference is that you can put a number to it. That’s not always the case, but it’s worth trying. Ask yourself, how you would know if you got what you wanted.
  • 14.
    • Develop a complete set of choices
      • Identify at least three different, interesting alternatives.
      • You do not have a decision unless you have alternatives from which to choose.
      • We think you should have at least three alternatives —and sometimes many more than that—that are different from each other, are doable, are interesting in some way, address the situation, and that collectively seem to represent the full range of choices.
      • This is a good place to involve others.
  • 15.
    • Gather information
      • Gather information that helps you understand the differences between the alternatives.
      • The only information you need is that which helps you understand the differences amongst the alternatives you are considering. Sometimes, that information is easily found. Sometimes it is not.
      • Information that is hard or impossible to find is called an “uncertainty.” It is important to recognize and consider uncertainty when you decide.
      • Ask yourself, “What do I need to know in order to make this decision?”
      • Ask yourself, “What are the ‘risks’ I see; how do I feel about them; Is there anything I can do to learn more about those uncertainties?”
  • 16.
    • Decision making is both art and science. As a science, it is supportable by frameworks, methods, tools, models, and math when you need it.
    • As an art, it rests on principles. Reasonable people can disagree on principles, but these are the ones that our research says leads to high quality decisions.
  • 17.
    • Now or never!
      • Good decision makers actively search out and find the decision opportunities that can make their lives better.
      • They do not live their life on autopilot, only changing their routines to solve the occasional problem.
      • They take responsibility for making their organization better. They take control of their destiny.
      • Don’t wait for a decision to be forced on you!
  • 18.
    • Focus on what you can control and on what matters
      • Not everything that happens, matters. Not everything that matters can be controlled—the essence of where decisions live. Not every decision is worth working on.
      • Be proactive, but more importantly, be thoughtful about where you spend your decision making energy. Focus on the few decisions that set the stage well for what follows.
  • 19.
    • Divide and conquer
      • This means breaking decisions down into component parts; understanding, critiquing, and improving each component; and then building the decision back up into a coherent, compelling recommendation.
      • Be thoughtful. Don’t jump at the first choice. If the decision seems hard, use a process. And do one thing at a time!
  • 20.
    • Seek out different points of view
      • There is nothing like a little outside perspective to help you see the problem differently, see different choices, and to get some clarity on what it is you really want.
      • Don’t stop with people who you know will agree with you. Find people who don’t.
  • 21.
    • Be tough on the problem and respectful of the people
      • Decision making breaks down when relationships get tangled up with the problem.
      • Fear of damaging a relationship prevents important issues from being discussed, often creating a lose/lose situation for all parties.
      • Smart decision making creates a space to have difficult conversations without risking relationships. Have those conversations early in the decision process before people become too “set”.
  • 22.
    • Make and keep high quality commitments
      • Actions speak louder than words. Your follow-through on decisions establishes your credibility as a decision maker.
      • Do what you say you are going to do.
  • 23.
    • Adhere to high ethical standards
      • Ethics, trust, and credibility go hand in hand.
      • You can work the mechanics of a decision like a pro, and if you do not act and choose ethically, you will ultimately erode if not destroy the trust of the people involved in making and enacting your decisions.
  • 24.
    • So now what?
      • We’re always posting more content on the art and science of decision making at , so check there often if you’re interested in the topic.
      • We blog about decision making at . Stop in and have a look.