Magazine article Work & Family Life

Dynamic Approaches to Decision-Making

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Dynamic Approaches to Decision-Making

Article excerpt

Making consistently good, timely decisions is a life skill we can all admire. But it's not like learning to ride a bicycle. Successful decision-making is a complex and dynamic process. And, because it's so important on the job (and at home), a great deal has been written on this subject over the years.

A 5-step plan

Marketing professor J. Edward Russo, PhD of Cornell University, the author of Decision Traps and Winning Decisions, offers this five-step approach:

1 Make a plan and give yourself a firm deadline.

2 Gather enough information to figure out your choices.

3 Weigh the options using pros and cons or a ranking system.

4 Make a selection with help from others as needed.

5 Evaluate your decision but don't fret over "the road not taken." Accept it as the best you could do at the time and move on.

Wear 6 different hats

Business consultant and author Edward de Bono uses the metaphor of wearing a series of hats in his book Six Thinking Hats.

IN THE WHITE HAT, you gather and analyze the known and needed information.

THE YELLOW HAT symbolizes brightness and optimism. Under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit.

The black hat is for judgment. You play devil's advocate and look for any weak spots in your reasoning and what might go wrong.

WITH THE RED HAT, you rely on your intuitive powers: your likes and dislikes, loves and hates, and what your "gut" tells you.

THE GREEN HAT focuses on creativity: new ideas, possibilities and perceptions.

THE FINAL BLUE HAT represents the control mechanism to ensure that all of the guidelines in this process have been observed. In other words: now you're putting it all together.

10-10-10 approach

Suzy Welch offers yet another approach in her book 10-10-10. This technique encourages us to make decisions in terms of immediacy: right now (10 minutes), the foreseeable future (10 months), or the distant future (10 years).

There's nothing literal about each of the 10s, Welch says. The first could be a minute, an hour, or a week. The second represents a future point when consequences start to play out. And the third stands for a time so far off that its particulars are still vague. So, whether it's 10-10-10 or 9-1520, the three-stage process is easy to apply. Welch suggests:

Start with the right question. Be absolutely clear about the issue you're trying to resolve. Take a job in another city? Go back to school? Stay in my relationship? Getting the question right is where to start.

Collect your data. Do it on a laptop, in a library7 and in conversations with your colleagues, family and friends. …

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