Almost 10 killer questions for great decision making!

In a high-tech world we’ve been fascinated that last week the world was focused on the roof tops of the Vatican, where it was a very low tech smoke signal that was the sole indication of the decision-making progress of 115 Cardinals forming the Conclave.

In the scheme of things it was a quick decision. The longest ever Papal election followed the death of Pope Clement IV and lasted from November 1268 to September 1, 1271, a whopping 3 years!

So it got me thinking about some of the strategies we can employ and questions that we can ask ourselves to support our own decision-making, and ensure that well thought through decisions don’t take, or feel like they take, almost 3 years to achieve.

We’re not saying that many of our decisions are of such a magnitude, but they are often significant enough to make our hearts race a little as we want to be sure we get them right.

The modern science of quick decision-making is called heuristics and it’s concerned with finding simple rules for making good decisions.

One of its discoveries is that drawing up a simple list of ‘for’ and ‘against’ and then going with the longer list, can produce as good or an even better result.

It’s even the approach that Charles Darwin took when trying to decide whether or not to marry his cousin Emma. The upside was that she was ‘better than a dog’ but a downside was that he would have less money for books. Lucky for Emma (possibly) was the fact that the list of pros was longer!

Given that making good decisions is a crucial part of business, we thought that we’d have a go at creating
9 and a half killer questions to make decision-making easier for you.

  1. What is the outcome that I want to achieve?
  2. What will I need to see, hear and feel to give me confidence that my decision was the right one?
  3. What deadline am I working to? (Time gives your perspective, so if you have plenty of it available don’t rush too quickly to a decision)
  4. Who else should I involve to ensure that I’ve covered every angle and aspect of this decision?
  5. What can I learn from great decisions that I’ve made in the past?
  6. Am I going to be able to live with this decision?
  7. Have I considered all of the available options?
  8. What are the potential short and long-term implications associated with it?
  9. If I listen carefully, what are my instincts telling me?

and for the half……Will it make my mother proud?

It’s also worth remembering that not all decisions are created equal, so if it’s just a case of deciding what to have for breakfast rather than electing the leader of the Roman Catholic church  then a really quick gut feel decision can be just as effective!

Image credit:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s