Decision Making

Trust. But Verify.

We are cognitively lazy. We don’t pay attention to the details unless something triggers us to. That’s not a fault; it’s efficient engineering of our brains to manage energy and attention. We cruise on autopilot until something is important enough to focus our attention. This doesn’t just influence how we experience our cognitive biases in seeing the world, though. It also profoundly shapes how we experience and interact with those around us. And how we should interact when things really matter.



Tools For Facilitation

I didn’t intend to write this article. I didn’t even want to write this article. But I didn’t want to leave last week’s article as the end to the series that I’ve been working on. There was somewhat more to be said, and in particular some specifics to be explored about tools. To be clear, I endorse none of the tools that I mention. But I’m curious about several of them.



When Tools Get In The Way

One of the essential challenges in successfully facilitating remote meetings is that—to put not too fine a point on it—they are online. Our normal meeting software is great for seeing and hearing the other person—as long as they don’t forget to unmute themselves—but for the most part that is all we get. If we want a different level of interaction, we need to think differently about what engagement looks like. The good news is that there are an enormous number of options with which to do exactly that.



When Meetings Aren’t (Completely) Meetings

Over a period of weeks, I’ve been deconstructing and exploring how we meet and make strategic decisions. Given our current pandemic reality, strategic retreats are neither possible nor desirable. My question was how they can be replicated online, and—for extra bonus points—whether it was possible for those meetings to be more effective than what we are more traditionally used to. I was cautiously optimistic at the outset. I’m now quite confident that it is actually possible.



Getting To A Decision Of Sorts

We like to think of deciding as an act of deliberate intent. In actual fact, decisions often simply happen. They emerge and evolve, or arrive at a point where they are simply accepted. All appearances to the contrary, it can be difficult to point to when a decision was actually made, how it was arrived at and by whom. This doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways to improve not just the quality of decisions, but also clarity in the decision making process.



The Accordion Theory of Decision Making

Getting to good decisions is a product of identifying good options. And while groups will tell you that they value good decisions, their behaviour often exhibits a rush towards making fast decisions. There are several cognitive biases that influence this, and these in turn contribute to some significant barriers in generating good options. Doing that requires thinking about accordions and how they work.



Navigating Decision – Exploring What We Know

To make good decisions we require good information. The challenge is that in many instances we make decisions with incomplete and imperfect information, even where further insight was possible. Groups whose diversity should enable differences in perspective and viewpoint often gravitate to the lowest common denominator. Pressure to get to the decision and pulls on attention mean that relevant information doesn’t get the attention or consideration that it should. It doesn’t have to be this way; with a little bit of thought and planning, better process is possible and other perspectives become practical.



The Building Blocks of Decision

If we care about making a good strategic decision, then we need a capable process to get us there. In my last article, I made the argument that if we try to move normal meeting structures online, we are likely to fail. Partly that’s a product of attention span and inadequacies in online meeting technologies….
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(Re)Finding Attention, Context and Meaning

Our brains are wonderful things. And so our our smartphones. We now have a smartphone in our pocket, and previously unimagined information at our fingertips. The challenge is knowing what to do with all that power. Or, more to the point, recognizing how the easy access to information makes us think about decisions and choices, and think in general. The more we take for granted about information that’s available, the less we take the time to recognize and work through what we already know.



I’ve Got A Sneaking Suspicion That Something’s Wrong

I’ve got that feeling again. You know the one. The anxious, niggling, persistent twinge that something’s not quite right. I’ve been thinking about how our unconscious self often tries to communicate with us. It’s often subtle. Easy to ignore, downplay or dismiss. And yet that little voice inside often has something important to say, if we’re just prepared to listen.



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