“Whenever you’re making a consequential decision … just take a moment to think, write down what you expect to happen, why you expect it to happen and then actually, and this is optional, but probably a great idea, is write down how you feel about the situation, both physically and even emotionally.”
When asked how to improve decision-making skills, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman recommended a ‘decision notebook’ where you can map out your choices.
Recent research about the influence of feelings and memory on decision-making helps us better understand how to make informed rather than emotional decisions. Following is a checklist for applying those findings and preventing good leaders from making bad decisions.
Think about how much you really know—and don’t know—about the decision. Let’s face it. We are biased in every situation. So the first thing to do is identify those areas in which you are potentially biased. Realistically assessing your knowledge of the situation can help avoid an overconfident conclusion. Overconfidence can create illusions about the infallibility of your intuition, and steer you to select data that just supports your initial conclusion. You can avoid this trap by bringing different data sources to the table.
Have a pre-mortem. Imagine you have made a decision and it’s failed. List all the reasons why it happened. This keeps you from avoiding anyone or anything that challenges your narrative about the competency of your decisions and instead dealing with potential pitfalls before they happen. The beauty of pre-mortems is that they’re easy and help you tweak decisions in beneficial ways.