Decision Making

Making a decision, and confidently is something I have struggled with.  However  I think I am getting better, here’s how:

In my administration and management class we learned about decision making from many different perspectives.  Once you move to a position of influence the decisions you make affect you, your career, the people you work with, your company or organization, and varying amounts of the general public.  Our professor recognized that there is no way to teach us material to prepare us for these decisions rather we must learn how to assess each situation uniquely; utilizing the information we have to make the best decision possible given the current circumstances.  Therefore our learning was done through case studies, discussion, and readings rather than lectures.

For this class we read two books with distinctly different advice on decision making.  Predictably Irrational focuses on how our brain’s natural processes influence our decisions whether we are conscious of how we made them or not.  Defining Moments offered guidance on how to make extremely challenging, morally conflicting decisions.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Every chapter of this books points out a new cognitive shortcoming, how we routinely react irrationally in certain situations.   Ariely conducts studies to prove each of these very human errors which make it impossible to ignore the ways you too are prone to make such mistakes.  From the allure of FREE! to our inability to think in absolute values (we are much better at comparing things in measurable ways) to our desire to hold on to what we have in order to avoid the pain of loss I regularly notice how these principles affect me in both little and large ways.

Defining Moments by Joseph Badaracco

In this book Badaracco presents three complex moments when a decision needed to be made and then offers advice on how to see each situation properly.   He pulls wisdom from philosophers and examples to provide context for his advice.   Underlying all of his suggestions are reflection both in the moment and beforehand.  Knowing your priorities, morals, and allegiances before you have to make a tough decision is key.

The challenge, in short, is to keep the immediately important from overwhelming the fundamentally important.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the other strong, persuasive, competing interpretations of this situation or problem?
  • Have I orchestrated a process that can make the values I care about become the truth for my organization?
  • Have I done all I can to strike balance both morally and practically?

I found both books interesting, practical and insightful.  As a result I have recently been much more cognizant of how I go about making decision – hopefully for the better.

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One thought on “Decision Making

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