Business, life

(Try to) Make Better Decisions

The lake and clouds near HWY 92&280

Thanks to @farnamstreet for these great points that he posted on Twitter. It reminded me of a good conversation with a friend about the ‘right’ and a ‘good’ decision.

A good decision is the best one you can make based on the evidence at hand when you need to decide. Only time can tell if it will be the ‘right’ one. By the way, it is good to remember that many decisions are reversible. With those types of decisions, you can use a lightweight process. You don’t have to live with the consequences for that long if you can change it (which is easy to say and hard to do).

You should improve your skills to recognize quickly that a decision is wrong. When you become good at course correction, you can ‘fail quickly and move forward fast. If you wish to improve and increase the odds of good decisions that turn out on the right side, here is a list of rules to help with the process.

How to make a better decision?

1. Schedule time to think and invest it in evaluating all the options you can recognize.

2. When considering options, watch your heart rate.

3. If all things are equal, take the road less traveled –> “hard decisions easy life, easy decisions, hard life.”

4. No decision is sometimes the best path. If you can’t get comfortable deciding, the answer is to explore the tension, not force a decision. I know it’s not an option in many cases, but it’s good to remember it as an alternative.

5. Instead of fight or flight, gather information.
Think about what you can do to get the knowledge you need to make a better decision.

6. Saying no is more important than saying yes.

7. Use the time to filter people and ideas. Most of the time, you don’t need to be an early adopter.

8. Look for win-win decisions. If someone has to lose, you’re likely not thinking hard enough or need to make structural/environmental changes.

9. When stuck, work back to first principles and build up.

10. The rule of 5. Think about what the decision looks like five days, five weeks, five months, five years, five decades.

11. Let other people’s hindsight become your foresight.

12. Avoid things the best version of yourself will regret.

13. Ask what information would cause you to change your mind. If you don’t have that information, find it. If you do, track it religiously.

14. Focus on collecting feedback to calibrate your ability to make this decision.

15. If you’re outside your circle of competence and still have to make a decision, ask experts HOW they would make the same decision, not WHAT they would decide.

16. Lean into (not away from) what’s making you uncomfortable.

17. Put things on a reversibility/consequence grid —irreversible and high consequence decisions likely require more time.
The rest of the time, you can usually go fast.
decisions and time - reversibility vs consequence18. Identify the 2-3 variables that matter and break them down to unearth assumptions and get the team on the same page.

19. Fast decisions should never be rushed.

20. Too much information increases confidence, not accuracy.

21. Avoiding stupidity is more straightforward than seeking brilliance.

22. Walk around the decision from the perspective of everyone implicated (shareholders, employees, regulators, customers, partners, etc.)

23. Some warning signs that increase the likelihood of stupidity are environment, the pace of change, rushing, physically tired, hyper-focus, authority, and consensus-seeking behavior.

24. Own the decision.
If you make decisions by a committee, have one person sign their name to the conclusion – someone needs to own it.

25. Decisions are nothing without execution.

26. Ask yourself, “and then what?”‏

Vasona Lake


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