Life is all about the choices we make every day. Whether it is about deciding on an outfit to wear for an annual meeting or about considering getting married to a special someone, it is critical that we make a wise decision.
For some of us every decision is an internal battle and we are never quite sure about how good or bad the decision is.When we are in a situation where we have to make a choice we either go by our gut feeling or choose the logical path.
The challenges we often face when confronted by a decision-making situation are:
- We do not consider all possible options:
When faced with a decision-making situation weinstinctivelylimit the number of choices assuming that they are too complex or may have a negative outcome.
Let us see how Eonex softsol overcame this issue. Eonex Softsol, an IT consulting firm was looking for a technology solution provider to partner with. There were two companies that topped their list. The first company had excellent products but poor service and the second company had an average product but excellent marketing and after sales training and support. Eon ex was in a dilemma as to go for the company with excellent products or the one with excellent service. Both aspects were equally important.
After a lot of brainstorming the firm came up with an option of partnering with both the companies as against the natural option of going with just one company. Clients had multiple options to choose from. The clients who were already comfortable with technology and did not need in-depth training opted for the product from the first company whereas those clients who wanted their staff to be well trained went for the product from the second company. By not limiting their options Eon ex could leverage the strength of both the partner firms and cater to the requirements of a larger customer base.
- We look for information that supports our thought process:
When we watch news, we follow more of those channels that agree and support our views. This strengthens and confirms our thought process. In other words, we see what we like to see, we hear what we want to hear and we interpret in the way we want to understand.
Similarly, when it comes to analyzing the alternatives for a decision, we have a tendency to look for and collect options that supports our point of view. Our point of view may not be correct, neutral or fair always. But we make critical decisions based on the analysis of such options, thinking that we are being rational.This is known as confirmation bias and it affects all of us in one way or the other.
To deal with confirmation bias, the first thing that needs to be done is to initially take in all the information as it is without getting into any analysis. Secondly, for every option that is considered, come up with 3-4 supporting reasons. Thirdly, rather than looking for information that confirms with your views, try to come up with reasons that dis confirms. This will give a holistic and unbiased perspective to the analysis. This will also boost up the probability of sticking with the most suitable option. Once the above three are accomplished revisit all the options once again. This will ensure that you are systematically dealing with the tendency to be biased.
- We find it tough to overcome short-term concerns:
Short-term concerns pose to be a big hurdle in the path of change. Everyone resists change and it becomes difficult to look beyond the current issues to find the
long-term benefits. There could also be a situation in which you are able to see the big picture but there may be others in your family, your team or your organization who are unable to and therefore may cause resistance.
There are many ways to deal with this issue. The first being familiarity. Introducing something in a big bang manner will lead people to a state of shock. It is always better to bring in new concepts in small packets over a period of time. Familiarity leads to acceptance and understanding. Organizations use this technique when a new change is implemented. Newsletters and office magazines are sent out to introduce the topic to the employees. Employee sentiments are gauged through meetings and informal talks. Time is given deliberately for the concept to sink in and in due time the change is brought about.
Taking a step back also helps to give a new perspective. If you are planning a life style change but are unable to get out of the daily grind, your plan will never get implemented. You will need to slow down and create time and space for yourself to think and introspect. Familiarity will give you the knowledge and reduce resistance but taking a step back will give you clearer ideas, effective solutions and prove to be your way forward.
- We are overconfident about our previous decisions.
A typical case of overconfidence is when physicians close the initial diagnosis without completely listening to patient. This leads to incorrect diagnosis and multiple visits to the clinic before the actual problem is found out.
This usually happens with a person when the previous decisions were a success. We stop questioning our assumptions, seeking dis confirming information or checking our biases. We become over assured and start ignoring the process that lead to our past success. Every major decision should be an outcome of critical thinking.
Power is another reason where people become overconfident about their knowledge and stop listening to others who present a different point of view.
Lastly start small rather than trying to completely avoid making decisions. As you consciously become comfortable with small decisions your confidence will increase. For critical issues be ready with the needed information; question the information; ask opinion from others typically someone who is an expert in the matter; try not to be too sensitive about how others will perceive you if the decision fails.
Be prepared for the worst-case scenario. If your decision goes wrong, accept it and try to find out what went wrong and use it as a lesson to be kept in mind and not a reason to escape.
Contributed By : Sanjit Das (Class of 2005, IBS Hyderabad).