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Decision Making Made Real

by | Mar 31, 2017 | Uncategorised

STOP! Why are you in such a rush? Decision Making made real…

Come on, admit it!  How many of us don’t bother making decisions and just go with the flow, what we’ve done before or what comes quickest to mind?  Yep, we’ve all been there.  We’ve done it about how we are going to do something, what we are going to eat, what we are going to do today etc etc… Is this really what we should be doing?

What we are doing in those circumstances is reacting to what is happening around us.  We then fast track the response through the well-practiced human abilities we have to leap to conclusions.

Why not do something different and actually choose to make a decision?  Is it such a bad idea to take even a few seconds, consciously engage with what’s going on and then choose what would be the best option for you?

I was talking at a seminar on Saturday and I asked how many people trusted their intuition.  At least half of the audience put their hands up. “Great” I said, “Now how do you know that you can trust it?”

Quite a lot of people don’t understand how intuition really works.  It does work, if you are an expert in the situation you find yourself in.  Now I’m not going to go into the details of this here but if you think about it, your intuition is based on your experiences and the results you have seen from previous situations and the results of your decisions.  The behaviourists have put a figure on this and talk about 10,000 hours of practice in order to be a true expert.  Are you an expert?

So what I am proposing here is a first step.  In my decision making process “Stop, Think, Act”, the first thing I get people to do is just recognise the opportunities they have to make a decision.  That’s all…  Think about it.  If you can recognise that you have an opportunity to make a decision then you can choose whether to make a decision or not.  If you don’t then you are in auto-pilot and possibly just repeating whatever has happened before.  Worse, is that your sub-conscious hasn’t correctly recognised the situation fully and is “leaping to a conclusion” and feeding you a less than perfect response. Possibly calamitous.

Here are three points to consider…

  1. You don’t need to make an instant decision:  There are almost no situations we find ourselves in these days where we have to respond so quickly to things. Actually, most situations will benefit from some level of consideration and engagement. Try it tomorrow at breakfast.  What would be the best breakfast for you? Don’t just leap for the same solution as usual.
  2. You CAN make a decision quickly:  With practice you can make a really good decision in 10 seconds… if you have to!  If you don’t have to, why would you rush it?  Just to tick something off a list?  Because it needs doing? Does that sound like a good reason to do something?
  3. Anticipate: If you know you are going to find yourself in rapid decision making situations then you can anticipate them and design and practice a decision-making process to run through.  This means you won’t miss out any key areas of the decision and be able to do it quickly.

This covers all aspects of our lives including work, sports and raising our family.

How many of us as parents have “reacted” to what our children have done without fully understanding the situation or responded in a way that was automatic because “that’s how  our parents did it” or we were in a rush?  Wouldn’t it be better to find out more about what’s going on and then decide how to respond? What a fantastic skill to teach our children through example!  Is there a bigger and more important skill you could pass onto them?

I saw some wonderful examples of rapid but conscious decision making in what has just been a wonderful weekend of high-level sport. We’ve currently got the Ashes cricket going on in the UK, we had the Open Golf Championship and also the end of the Tour de France.  We saw “how to” and “how not to” make rapid decisions.

The England cricket team clearly had a methodology for their use of the technology to review decisions and those choices had to be made within 10 seconds of the original decision.  The golfers had to make decisions with every shot about which club to use, what they were trying to achieve and how to do it.   In the Tour de France, riders have to respond as a team or individual to others tactics, the weather and Team SKY have become infamous for their meticulous planning and preparation.

The ability to make rapid decisions is something that can be taught and developed.  I was lucky enough to spend two years at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as an Instructor and I’ve realised that was what my job was.

In my next blog, I’ll give you a strategy for rapid decision making. In the mean time, just go out and spot all those opportunities you have to make decisions.