We are constantly making decisions in our business, social, and personal lives. Our decisions define who we are, communicate our values to the world, and frame our future for us and those around us.
Decisions could be big or small, complex or simple, conscious or subconscious. Each decision is an individual commitment to act or avoid action. When we pledge to do something, our pledge is a decision to do just that – pledge. The decisions to act on our pledge is a different one. We make the decision only when we mobilize the required resources such as attention, time, and money to act on it.
Decisions are also recursive – that is we have decisions within decisions. Each stage in one decision could be a set of smaller decisions in itself. We may need to make many smaller decisions before we can address the bigger one. In addition, all decisions, ours and of the people around us, are connected. They form a web of decisions, large and small, influencing, supporting, or diminishing the outcome of one another.
Because decisions are personal and recursive, we cannot avoid but framing our decisions by our way of thinking, our own personal and unique mental models, beliefs, and biases, rendering them less than effective.
As decision makers, we must pay special attention to the way we think, the way our mind use our knowledge and experience. We must learn to prime our thinking to compensate for our unique errors and biases, to reach into our relevant knowledge and experience, and to offer ourselves the best direction available, not only for our current situation but with an eye for all subsequent situations and decisions to come.
This priming is an inside job, yet not simple to achieve. Like any great athlete, we need training and coaching to identify our unique strengths and weaknesses. Practice to use our strengths, compensate for our weaknesses, and enhance and maintain these skills.
When making decisions we go through a three-stage process that is packed with sub decisions. Depending on the decision, the process could be fast or slow, intuitive or analytical, conscious or subconscious.
- Find a solution to the problem: The stage in which we must recognize and accurately define the problem or the need, identify and assess solution options, and select the best one.
- Commit to action: This is when the actual decision is made, regardless of the option selected or method used. Our decision is a personal commitment to act, mobilize resources for execution, and accept the consequences of our actions.
- Manage the change: The sage when we track progress, get feedback, and adjust actions to ensure the problem is solved. In this stage, we can also start all over if necessary.
Each stages has its own unique challenges and potential pitfalls. Our training and coaching provide effective means to overcome them.