Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A decision making process?

Over the years, I have had clients ask for "a decision making process." My response used to be "there is no such thing; if there was a universal decision making process, we could program a computer to make decisions and we wouldn't need people" (which in some cases might be a good thing.)

But what I have come to realize is that the tools and approaches I provide in my presentations and books can be assembled into a framework for decision making. Judgement is still needed, but the key is to organize the decision making process in a way that maximizes results.

One limitation in the human brain shows up when you are trying to decide or prioritize between several options. Let's say you're introducing a new product or service, and there are eight different approaches you can use to promote it. If you try to decide between all eight at once, odds are you will lose some details, or have a hard time keeping all options in your head at once.

Another example is getting a group to agree on items for an agenda. There may be 10 items proposed, but only time for three to be addressed. Typically, people will spend a significant amount of time discussing what should be discussed...

A decision making tool that can be used in both these situations is a Paired Sort. The Paired Sort breaks down a "many option" decision into a set of either/or decisions, and then totals the results.

We have had a paired sort tool on our web site for a while, but have not promoted it. Moreover, it would not work on portable devices such as the iPhone or Blackberry. So we re-wrote the program and now it should work on any device. It also can be used for individuals or group prioritization.

Please try it out here and let me know what you think!

As well, as I work on doing a better job of organizing these tools and approaches to make them easier to use, I am looking for examples of the types of decisions you make and problems you face. These can be easy or hard, large or small. My goal is to make decisions easier by helping you identify what type of decision you have to make and presenting the appropriate tools. This may be through a map of decision making or through computer aided questioning. So please send some examples!

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