Have you ever said to yourself: “If I knew then what I know now…” or “It seemed like a good idea at the time?” Being your best means being confident in your decisions and following a defined process for making them.
Erik Larson is the founder of Cloverpop, a cloud-based application for corporate and individual decision making. He approaches the process from the perspective of behavioural economics. Fundamentally, Larson promotes the practice of “writing it down and keeping track of it.”
Write down the key facts.
All too often decisions are based on solving a specific problem at a specific time. Listing the key facts helps to keep decisions in line with pre-existing goals and helps reveal unintended consequences.
Make note of pre-existing goals or priorities.
Often decisions get made in the heat of the moment, then the reasons and the rationalizations are developed to defend them. It is only afterwards that it becomes apparent how the decisions fit in to the bigger picture and how they affect other goals and priorities.
Make sure the alternatives are realistic. This helps the decision making process by adding choices. Simply, having more viable choices leads to more effective and complete decisions.
Figure out what is missing.
By figuring out what you do not know, you can track down specific information for the answers you need. Uncovering the missing pieces helps to eliminate distractions when so much extraneous information is available.
Look to the future.
What impact will your decisions have in a year? Gauging potential impact helps to separate the decision from the heat of the moment. It can also help in developing new scenarios that can be applied when developing alternatives (point 3).
Involve other people.
Try to get at least two more contributors to the decision. Having additional perspectives limits the amount of bias in the decision. Keep the group to fewer than eight members.
Write down what was decided.
Include the reasons, concerns and the dissenting opinions. That transparency helps to build buy in through a more complete understanding of the decision making process.
Make sure to follow up.
A month or two after you’ve made the decision, evaluate it to make sure it is delivering the desired results. Ongoing review will help sustain buy in because people will have regular opportunities to re-present their case and recommend changes.