the elements used for rock paper scissors on a red background. decision making concept.
If only workplace decisions were as easy as rock, paper, scissors. Image: Marietjie/Shutterstock

A simple guide to not-so-simple decision-making

13 Jul 2018

When you’re staring down the barrel of a difficult decision and feel at a loss as to the correct choice, going through the right steps could demystify the process.

Your choices matter, and just because you face choices big and small every day, both in a professional context and outside, it doesn’t mean that the decision-making process is ever easy or smooth.

It’s impossible to exactly predict the ramifications of the decisions you make. Due to this, it can be easy to feel as if you are at the mercy of fate when making important choices, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, using tried-and-tested methods can be the solution that cuts your decision-making failure rate considerably.

If you want to make good decisions, you should make sure you have all the relevant information first. Take a step back and consider the situation as if you were an objective observer, and then apply Sakichi Toyoda’s 5 Whys technique. This can help you trace the root of the problem and will make the next stage of the decision-making process – brainstorming – much more straightforward.

Jot down all of your ideas relating to the problem, regardless of how useless you might think they are. Even writing down your worst ideas will serve you in helping to inspire creativity.

When you’re happy with your list, do away with the duds and whittle it down to the best four or five ideas. Weigh up each option carefully – a good way to help you determine whether something is a good idea is to ask yourself what the results of that decision will look like in 12 months’ time.

Don’t rely on this alone, though – your intuition about the best course of action will also serve you well, and there’s more scientific backing to the validity of intuition than you may assume.

If you’re still feeling a little wobbly about your decision-making prowess after all that preparation, allow yourself a little cooling-off period. Sleep on it, run it past a friend or trusted adviser, and then work from there.

You still ultimately will never be sure what will come of your decisions until things play out, but taking these steps will make you far more likely to be successful.

For more handy advice on decision-making, check out the infographic below, brought to you by On Stride.

decision-making guide

Infographic: On Stride

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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