Saturday, March 08, 2014

Decisive: no more pros and cons lists (2 of 5)

The first of four steps in making better decisions from my favorite of the last year or so, "Decisive" by the Heath brothers. Practical tips that I don't want to forget!

Widen your options
For when you have options but want to ensure good quality:
1. Assess opportunity cost. “What are we giving up by making this choice? What else could we do with the same time and money?” (pg 49)

2. Run the vanishing options test, especially if you hear someone asking “whether or not” to do something. “If you cannot choose any of the current options, what else could you do?” (pg 49)

For when you don’t have many options:
1. Find someone who’s solved your problem.
  • Look inside: ask yourself or colleagues, “Who/what are outliers or bright spots? When there were small successes, why did they occur?” (pg 73)
  • Look outside: “Who else struggled with a similar problem and what can I learn?” Look at competitors and best practices. (pg 69)
  • If you are making an unprecedented decision or still have few options, “ladder up” by looking for analogies and seek inspiration from an industry/situation that is vaguely similar. (pg 82) For example, naming a fast computer chip could include looking at names for fast skis. Designing a better check-out line for retail could talk to a plumber about water flow.
NOTE: Orgs must not forget to then capture these options by creating a “playlist” of questions or possibilities for the next time (pg 73-79)

2. Multitrack: have several teams produce 2-6 meaningfully distinct options and get feedback simultaneously (vs. creating/tweaking one version at a time). Decision paralysis from too many options rarely occurs. (pg 58)
  • executives who consider more options make faster decisions (pg 55)
  • multitracking feels better  because it keeps egos in check (pg 55)
  • it gives you an immediate fallback plan(s) (pg 55)

NOTE: To diagnose if you are being given “sham options” designed to make the “real” option look better, poll colleagues for their preferences and make sure there is not easy consensus. (pg 59)

3. Ensure you intentionally cycle between “prevention of problems” and “promotion of opportunities” focus during your analysis. (pg 62-63)

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