Decisions, decisions, decisions... what I found out over the years: the ability to make quick and good decisions is the key to your success. That's why when I heard about the new book by my favorite authors of Stick and Switch (both reviewed on this blog and both I highly recommend) I decided to listen to this one. It was a good decision. Now I decided to share the consequences of this decision here with you (see what I did there? ;-)
According to the authors, there are four villains that negatively impact our decisions: * When we encounter a choice we tend to narrow-frame and focus on the most obvious options, very often failing to explore alternative options and possibilities * Then we start analyzing our options, but because of the confirmation bias we tend to gather self-serving information that confirms our most obvious choice * We finally make a choice but short-term emotion will often tempt us to make the wrong one * And then we live with the consequences of our decision but unfortunately we're overconfident about what the future brings.
It's hard not to argue with the authors' logic there. Now, as with their previous books, the authors came up with an acronym (and a process) to make better decisions - they call it WRAP and here it is:
W - "Widen your options"
It's really important to avoid this "narrow frame" and take a step back and see if there are additional options out there. One of the techniques to do that is the "Vanishing Options Test" - try to decide when one of the most obvious options disappeared. This way we're prompted to find alternatives and think "outside of the box".
R - "Reality-test your assumptions"
To make sure we test before we go all the way, I loved the concept of "ooching" and trying small first. Like if you wanted to study law, you'd hire yourself at a law firm as an unpaid intern just to see how this works and if it was really what you wanted. In our "startup world" this concept is called MVP - Minimum Viable Product - a prototype you build to see if there are customers for the startup business you want to build.
A - "Attain some distance"
Take a step back. If you were to advise a friend on this decision, what would you tell them to do? They give a very powerful example of Intel CEO Andy Grove who was debating whether they should focus on microprocessors instead of the fading memory business. He asked himself - if we'd hire a replacement CEO what would they've done based on the facts and data? Then he left the room, entered again as the "new CEO" and told everyone they'd ditch the memory business and focus on microchips. Great decision. However I wish he was that smart about ARM chips present in the current mobile devices. Neither my iPhone nor my iPad have Intel processors in them. Andy failed to see this transition. It's a side note but it also highlights that even if you were right once, doesn't mean you'd always be right.
P - "Prepare to be Wrong"
Let's not assume the consequences of our decision will be great. Let's revisit our decision every now and then - that's the idea behind "Tripwire". I believe most of decisions we make are "small decisions" meaning, they can be revised and changed. We don't have to stick to our decisions blindly - although our ego might ask us to do just that. When you form a tripwire you're forcing yourself to revise a decision after a period of time and see if it still is right for you. Perseverance is good. Being stubborn is bad.
The authors also talk about "pre-mortems" - meaning - you assume you've made your decision and the consequences of it are a failure. You start asking why you failed. What would you have done differently to succeed?
Get the book and learn to make better decisions
I hope that after reading this book I'm a little smarter. Let's see if that's really the case but I'm happy I read it and as with these guys' past books I can't recommend this highly enough. In this post I just scratched the surface - there are many more concepts that in this book that help you make better decisions. I encourage you to make a good decision and buy this book.
Question: What are your best tips to make better decisions? Which concepts from this book you liked best?
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- Michael Sliwinski