Art of Decision Making – Your Guide to Smart Choices and Strategic Thinking7 min read
When you are at a certain point in life and you want to make a decision, business-related or personal, there are several techniques you can use to make the best possible decision.
These skills or techniques apply to your everyday life so feel free to use any of these in your daily life.
Eisenhower, a renowned U.S. president, devised a time management matrix applicable to everyday individuals. If it was good for a US president it sure should be enough for all of us. This quadrant-based tool categorizes tasks into urgent or not, and important or not.
In quadrant one, tasks are both urgent and important, requiring immediate attention. Quadrant two includes important but not urgent tasks, aligning with long-term goals. Quadrant three involves urgent but less important tasks, suitable for delegation. Quadrant four comprises tasks neither urgent nor important, ideal for elimination.
The key is productivity—focus on top-left tasks and eliminate bottom-right ones using the “decide, delegate, and delete” approach. Urgent tasks demand reaction (emails, calls), while important tasks contribute to long-term goals.
Quadrant one tasks, labeled “do first,” are critical for avoiding negative consequences. Quadrant two tasks, “deciding when,” require planning and alignment with long-term goals. Delegation is vital for quadrant three—tasks that seem urgent but lack true importance.
Quadrant four is about deletion—eliminating time-wasting tasks, and freeing up time for quadrants two and one.
Balancing personal and professional life is key, with downtime essential for energy renewal.
The Eisenhower Matrix helps maximize time in important and urgent quadrants while delegating quadrant three and eliminating quadrant four tasks contribute to effective time management.
IDEAL heuristic strategy for problem-solving—a powerful yet simple framework for unpacking real-life problems.
Let’s explore the fundamental components of IDEAL:
- Identify the problem,
- Define and represent it,
- Explore possible strategies or solutions,
- Act on a selected strategy, and
- Look back and evaluate.
This approach encourages active problem-solving.
Bransford and Stein, creators of the IDEAL model, emphasize not just identifying the problem but also defining its context and exploring multiple strategies. IDEAL is a toolbox of problem-solving strategies, that enhance your problem-solving skills.
Now, applying IDEAL to a common situation: your car breaks down. The first problem is the car won’t go, and the context is being stuck on the road, a potentially dangerous situation. Identify the problem as the car blocking the road, and the context is the risk to you and other drivers. The strategy involves moving the car to a safe space and considering options like pushing it or seeking help. Act on the best solution—perhaps a Good Samaritan helps. Look back to identify the root cause, learning from the experience to avoid a recurrence.
In essence, the IDEAL model’s key fundamentals are about active problem-solving, learning from experiences, and avoiding similar situations in the future.
John Whitmore, a prominent problem-solving expert, introduced the Grow Model, transforming productivity globally.
We’ll briefly explore its four key steps: Goal, Reality, Options, and Way forward.
The Grow Model aids in gaining insight into problems and simplifying complex issues through a sequence of questions in problem-solving, goal-setting, and personal productivity. Start with your goal, assess the current reality, consider options based on the situation, and determine your next steps.
For instance, if your goal is to finish an online course, assess the reality of limited time and numerous ideas. Options include time-blocking for course creation or outsourcing. Finally, decide and act.
This model’s success lies in its ability to simplify complex issues universally. It’s flexible for teams and individuals, making it widely successful.
In a managerial scenario, applying the Grow Model involves asking questions to guide individuals in finding solutions for themselves. Encourage goal-setting, assess the reality, discuss options, and plan the next steps. The process answers small questions that collectively address larger issues. Try this powerful framework and share your experiences.
Decision Tree, a favored problem-solving method. It prompts you to consider the potential outcomes of each decision, weighing the pros and cons. For example, deciding on a vacation destination involves assessing options like Europe or visiting family.
If you choose Europe, Decision Two could lead you to Spain, Germany, or Croatia, each with distinct outcomes. Visiting family has its own set of possibilities, such as spending quality time together and avoiding guilt trips. Options offer different choices, each with unique experiences.
To simplify this process, create a diagram with Decision One, its options, Decision Two, and the corresponding outcomes. This Decision Tree method applies to both personal and business decisions.
Personal decision-making, often the most challenging, becomes more manageable with the Crossroads Model, especially for long-term choices.
The model presents various roads or options to consider:
- Beckoning Road: Reflects your calling, and what you feel compelled to do.
- Dream Road: Envisions your dream life, the path leading to your desired existence.
- Sensible Road: Represents the practical and safer choice, aligning with reality.
- Road Not Traveled: Signifies the riskiest option with unexplored possibilities.
- Familiar Road: Offers a comfortable, familiar path within your comfort zone.
- Road Back: Suggests revisiting and reevaluating past experiences.
This model serves as a valuable tool for contemplating alternatives and making decisions that align with your goals.
Rubber band model
When facing significant career or life decisions, like choosing between two appealing options, I find the Rubber Band Model effective. It prompts consideration of what is holding you (current situation) and what is pulling you (alternative option).
Using a ranked table (1 to 5), You assess factors:
What is holding me (15 total):
- Pay: 3
- Long hours (balanced by family proximity): 3
What is pulling me (12 total):
- Boring current job: 2
- Promotion opportunities in the new job: 1
After giving certain scores for each list item you do the sum and go with that option.
This model is a valuable tool for evaluating two alternatives.
Pros vs Cons
This is a widely used problem-solving approach, often taught in schools. To help you assess situations, consider framing the analysis in terms of advantages, facts, and disadvantages or opinions. This method is swift and beneficial.
Randomize and sort
It’s applicable in various situations. To use it, input names and order, then generate random numbers using the “rand” or “random” function in Excel.
Drag the numbers down, highlight the range, and sort by the order column.
This method is great for randomizing and sorting lists, even for large groups or lotteries.
Just remember, to avoid making changes once sorted, as it can alter the order.
You were provided with different techniques to try to pick the best option when you hit the situation where you have to pick between options.
Try it out for yourself and let me know which one suits you the most!
Denis J. 👋