by Luba Koziy, Consultant
There are tons of articles out there that claim to teach you how to make better decisions. “5 Ways to Improve Your Decision Making” or “7 Steps to Become a Better Decision Maker”… we’ve all seen them, and most of us have probably read them. Why? Because our lives are based on and determined by the decisions we make.
BTS believes that leadership is “relentlessly contextual” and I would take that notion one step further to posit that our lives are “relentlessly contextual” – we live our lives not minute by minute or hour by hour, but moment by moment. Think about it; we can’t remember what happened last Thursday at 2:03 PM but we can remember that last Thursday afternoon – Kristine brought delicious donuts to the office to celebrate a few birthdays. It’s these moments that make up our lives, not the minutes. And this is why decisions are so critical – because they create these memorable moments.
Now that we know why decision making is absolutely critical, let’s explore how we can engage in decision making. In my opinion, there is only one thing you can do to become a “better” decision maker: be more self-aware. That’s it; that’s the secret sauce to all of your life’s complexities. You might sense that I’m being slightly facetious, but I wholeheartedly believe that there is no magic behind being a good decision maker. The only thing we can do is become aware of our personal selves, our thoughts, and our biases to be “better” at making decisions. The reason why better is in quotation marks is because it’s completely subjective and it can mean different things. Is a decision better because it’s the right decision or because you put more effort into exploring the options or because you came to a conclusion more efficiently? That’s for you to decide. But being more self-aware will allow you to do all of those things.
A bias is simply a tendency to think a certain way, and, more often than not, this tendency can cause disconnect from reality. Similarly, a heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows for quick, but not always accurate, decision making. In the BTS Innovation Practice, we refer to these biases/heuristics as “rivers of thinking” – deep neural connections that have been formed by years of countless experiences and new information. It is often difficult to break out of these rivers of thinking but we have a few innovation techniques to help our clients think outside of the box, or outside of the river.
The “Making Better Decisions” series will explore a variety of mental biases and heuristics that we fall victim to every day. I’ll explain the bias/heuristic, give some examples, and then provide some takeaways of how BTS has helped clients become more cognizant of these mental constraints. In the next post, we’ll explore our first mental heuristic: availability heuristic, so stay tuned. As long as we understand our personal biases, we are all capable of making better decisions.