Decision Making at Its Best: A Step-By-Step Guide to Problem Solving
We're not innately born with decision making skills. They must be learned. Read this step-by-step guide to the decision making process.
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The Insight 💡
To make a good decision you first need to solve problems. Problem-solving and decision-making are two sides of the same coin. By clarifying the problem, investigating the root causes, and following an evidence-based approach, we increase the odds of reasonable decisions.
Problem Solving & Decision Making
Yin and Yang
When you think about it, almost all of the good and bad things that happen in the world result from people's decisions.
Any way that we can improve decision-making can potentially improve practically every problem on the planet!
Unfortunately, some studies have found that even brilliant people will make poor decisions without special training.
On the other hand, a lot of research has already been done to find ways to improve people's decision-making.
There are now many techniques that you can apply to make your decision-making more powerful. That can improve your life as well as your business.
So how can you improve your decision-making process? Read on to learn all about the structured approach that can take your decision-making to the next level!
Clarify the Problem
The first step in the decision-making process is identifying and clarifying the problem. Conduct a root cause analysis of the problem.
One of the biggest reasons decision-making often goes poorly is that we do not think carefully about the decision at hand.
It can help a lot to step back and take a moment to articulate in precise words exactly what decision we are making.
To do this, it often helps to write down the nature of the decision. The first time you write it down, you will probably not encapsulate the situation very eloquently.
But ff you keep rewriting the situation you are in, you will eventually come to a better synthesis of everything essential in the decision that you have to make.
Although this may not sound advanced, this one simple technique can do a lot by itself to improve your decision-making.
Map Out the Territory as Clearly as possible
You can think of clarifying the decision you are making as finding the borders of the problem you have to contend with.
The next step is to map out the territory inside those borders as clearly as possible. It is almost impossible to give specific recommendation that applies to every situation.
However, this is one piece of advice that does seem to help no matter your problem. The better you understand your problem, the more likely you will manage it effectively.
In many cases, once you have a clear picture of what is going on, all kinds of potential solutions will suddenly become apparent.
Think One Step Ahead
At this point, you may think that you have a pretty good idea about what to do. However, it is important not to let yourself get trapped inside a box.
Once you start thinking down a particular path, you may fail to consider alternatives.
To combat this tendency, you should use a few techniques to help yourself think of possible alternative decisions. Ask for other people's opinions.
Can you imagine what they might say would be the alternative solution?
For example, when you share your objective with someone else, they may point out an obvious, much better alternative solution that you did not think about.
Alternatively, you can use sentence stems to help yourself think of possible alternative strategies.
For example, you might finish the following sentence stems. "The cheapest way to solve this problem is____" or " The safest way to solve this problem is ____."
Sentence stems like this can help you think of alternative approaches. It would be best if you do not commit too hard to your first idea until you have considered other ideas.
After all, you want to go with the best idea you come up with, not just the first idea you come up with.
Rely On The Evidence
It is easy to let emotions carry you away and affect your decision-making. Great decision-makers know how to let the evidence do a lot of their thinking for them.
Ask yourself what your answer would be if you were relying on only the evidence and not your own emotions.
It is then up to you to implement the decision that the evidence points to.
If you want to validate your emotions, it can often feel better to do so, and sometimes your gut feeling is right.
But if you want to have maximum success, you should put a lot more weight on the evidence.
Make a Choice Based on Reason
Once you have considered all the evidence and analyzed the territory, you will have to make a choice. It can help to list out all of your possible options.
Once you are finished, it can help to add the last option that says something like, "The last strategy that we have not yet considered is____."
This can help you make sure that you are not bound by whatever you have written down as your list of options.
It seems basic, but many people come up with a plan, feel good about their decision, and then go home for the day and don't do anything else.
It is vital to take whatever necessary actions to ensure that your plan will be implemented.
You may need to set reminders or delegate tasks to certain people.
Planning is the easier part, implementation is where you see the fruit of your thinking, so take actions accordingly.
Review Your Results and Upgrade Your Thinking
Once your decision has been made and implemented, you should measure the results.
That way, you can learn from your mistakes and improve your decisions in the future.
Improving your decision-making can be as empowering as the latest developments in technology.
Upgrading your decision-making process is simply learning from your previous mistake and the pattern to make decisions that serve you best in the future.
Think about why you want to make a decision. It's important to stay focused on your goals to make better decisions.
I hope that you could take away something helpful from this brief article on some of the most potent ways you can enhance your decision-making process.
Although it can take a lot of focus and time to change the way you make decisions, doing so is an investment that will pay off in every area of your life.
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