Clarity - what we all need to make the right decision every time
Some decisions are difficult because we don't have clarity. According to research by Luda Kopeikina, author of The Right Decision Every Time: How to reach perfect clarity on tough decisions, there are five hurdles to decision clarity:
1. Lack of clear objectives
Many of us have decisions to make. We normally state the decision as a question like, "Should we enter the market in China?" While this may be a "Yes" or "No" question, there is more behind this question that meets the eye, or is articulated. Sometimes even we don't know the real reason. If we don't really know where we want to go, what we want to achieve, then anything would do. And that sets up indecision. To overcome this, use the "5 Whys" technique. Continuously ask "Why is this important" on the decision question and subsequent responses until you get at the root of the decision - the real intent.
2. Lack of clear constraints
A decision that is unbounded would either be easy to make, or extremely difficult. Easy because any option will do, since we have no constraints. Difficult because we won't know how to choose one option over another. Hence constraints actually make decision-making both easier and more difficult. But the consensus is clear: we need constraints because we live in a world where resources are limited and opportunity cost is everywhere. So when you seek clarity, seek out your decision constraints; and these can be found in resources, structure, culture, procedures, risk appetite, and even concerns.
3. Difficulty in dealing with emotions
Wouldn't it be great if our emotions didn't get in the way of our decisions? Sadly, that seldom ever happens, even with business decisions. Every time we make a decision, we are using our value system, our judgements, our experience and our knowledge. And these link up with our affective thinking. Therefore, there is a need for us to harness the emotion to drive the decision. To do that, we need to dive deeper into the emotion and identify what is causing it. Use the 5 Why's again. Then, once you know the cause of the emotion, turn it into a constraint and use it as a decision input. For example, if there is an uneasy feeling about letting a person go, then ask the 5 Why's. It could well be because this person had been a good employee for the past 10 years and it seems a waste to let him go. So you could turn it into a constraint and say, "Provided that we can harness the 10 years' experience he has with us..." This will effectively give credence to your emotions and help you make the right decision every time.
4. Lack of clear perspectives
You know how it is...when we are caught in the middle of a decision, we only see it for what it is, and we sometimes cannot tell fact from fiction. This is because only see the situation from one perspective. One way to overcome this is to identify your assumptions, and apply scenario thinking and test them. Another way is set up a room with 6 chairs in a circle. One chair is yours. Label the other chairs "customer", "supplier", "stakeholders", "competitor" and "regulator". Then physically move from one chair to the next, seeing your decision from their perspective and tell yourself what to do based on their perspective. You will be surprised by what you see. Finally, you could get someone to play Devil's Advocate with you. Identify a person who has no interest in the decision, and whose thinking and counsel you trust. Then ask them to poke holes at your thinking. The more you can do that, they better you will see your situation, and the better you can make the right decision.
5. Difficulty in choosing among options
Psychologists have already identified that too many options causes us to freeze; and we enter into indecision. As Luda Kopeikina always says, "The best decision is the right one, the second best is the wrong one, and the worst decision is none at all." In generating many options, we get into decision paralysis and we don't make a decision at all. That is much more damaging than making the wrong decision. Yet, how can we safely say we have the right decision if we have not developed all the possible options? And what if they number more than three? So there is a need to help decision makers converge at the right decision, and we use our constraints for that. By balancing constraints with the options, we can eliminate those that are not good enough until we only have 2 options. It is then that we can choose the right one. And chances are, we will be able to choose the right decision every time.
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Written by Ian Dyason