The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Making decisions

As we look around how others make decisions we will find many interesting approaches. Some will not be applicable to us. And yet it is interesting to figure out they may be applicable to our situations.

Not too long ago Barack Obama shared the decision framework he figured out for himself after arriving in the White House. In this situation a lot of the decisions never reached him. It’s the same for most of us. Team members, for example, will take as many decision as they can by themselves. They will reach out to the leader only when they can’t figure the decision by themselves. The easy decisions having been taken away Obama was presented with decisions for which good outcomes had not been figured out. In fact, the alternatives he had received were all bad. The certainty in such a situation: there is no perfect solution. As no perfect solution was available he decided to seek out the solution with the highest probability to be the right one.

It is naturally possible to make a gut decision but that doesn’t allow to find the solution with the best probability to be a useful one. That is where facts become important. Facts serve decision by allowing to highlight it from as many sides as possible. Facts ease decision making.

In a team, it is the team members who are there to help provide these facts. Not only can they provide the facts, they can also explain them.

Maybe not easy, but effective: ask questions. Do it until you understand the explanations shared with you. Remember that people explain things based on their knowledge while using their own vocabulary. They often need your help and questions to know how to provide an explanation you understand. Thus ask until you understand.

The idea that we have to have an answer will often be in our way. Almost as often as the idea that to be seen as a performant leader,  decisions need to be taken immediately. Even in a fast past environment like the White House, this isn’t true.


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