3 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Decision Making
“In the course of his studies, Johnson has discovered some useful–and surprising–strategies for coming to a decision and boosting the likelihood of a positive outcome. Here are three steps he suggests building into your next big choice.
1. Don’t be too decisive.
Johnson warns that the biggest mistake business leaders make in their decision making is possessing overconfidence. ‘Decisiveness is fine for simpler choices in life,’ he says. ‘But when you get to a really important crossroads, deliberation is far more important than decisiveness.’
2. Involve other perspectives.
‘An important part of this process in a business is diversity in the group of people making the decision,’ Johnson says. A multitude of studies support the notion that cognitively diverse groups make both better and more inventive decisions. Even large groups, if they are composed of like-minded individuals, underperform when compared with groups that contain a broad range of viewpoints. ‘It is the nature of a complex problem that there are angles of it you cannot see from one perspective,’ Johnson says. While he notes that reaching a consensus can be more contentious when your workforce is diverse, it yields far better solutions by infusing the process with inherent creativity, and avoiding groupthink.
3. Conduct a ‘pre-mortem.’
Now that you know the goals and a range of strategies for achieving them, you have come to a decision. Next, take that decision and ask: What does the future look like if it completely flops?
It’s a concept psychologist Gary Klein dubbed a ‘pre-mortem,’ and essentially involves asking the question: If the patient dies…what caused that to happen? By visualizing the inverse of what a successful outcome to the decision looks like (“If in two years, this decision turns out to have been a disaster, why would that be?”), individuals and teams also open themselves up to a more creative process where they can see flaws they might have otherwise overlooked.
It sounds odd, but Johnson is convinced the pre-mortem is crucial for the business setting–especially when even the most well-intentioned decisions can have wide-ranging and damaging consequences. ‘In any business in a disruptive field or social media that’s messing with incumbents or challenging beliefs, it’s incumbent on those companies to run pre-mortems on their concepts,’ he says.”