When faced with a challenge, we often fall into the classic decision-making pitfall of asking too narrow of a question. This drives us to “this or that”, “yes or no” and other binary options. This one-zero logic can lead to bad decisions. For example, if I’m hungry after dinner, I could ask myself whether to have cake or ice-cream for dessert. A better question is “how might I satisfy or prevent after-dinner-hunger?” That question opens up a world of options, from considering other dessert types, to changing eating times, to eating a bigger dinner, etc.
Fall in love with the problem, before you settle on either-or solutions. A few simple ways of doing this are:
Once you settle on a broad question, generate good options using these steps:
And finally, don’t keep on collecting data in the hopes that the answer will magically appear. In this world of uncertainty and ambiguity, there’s often more than one right answer. Colin Powell advises to shoot for between 40 and 70% of the info, and Jeff Bezos uses a “70% of the info” rule before making a decision. Uncertainty is to be expected and something to manage. We’ll talk about that in the next blog post.