28 January 2006

Decision: Outlook versus technique.

Human ingenuity, especially in the contexts of military and management science, has derived many techniques to augment common sense in making sound decisions. As an example, this site introduces several well-established approaches, including Pareto analysis, cost-benefit analysis, and decision trees.

It's true enough that anything can be hard when you don't know how to do it. But think it over: in your experience, do more people run aground for not knowing paired comparison analysis, or for lacking the outlook that they must take decisions in matters that are important to them?

I like that term--taking a decision. To me, it aptly conveys the quality of the action required. In my experience, good decision-makers are thouse who actively take decisions as they are confronted with them. We all decide constantly, even if most of the time we are deciding to go to work or eat lunch or otherwise follow exactly the same habits we displayed yesterday. The best decision-makers, I suspect, differ from the rest of us because they take more responsibility for these decisions, moment by moment and day by day. It may have less to do with the quality of the decisions themselves, since all of us will have our blunders, and more to do with the emotional or psychological mindset that girds a person to take matters in hand.

Many top performers feel fear just like the rest of us, but--unlike us ordinary or low performers--they opt to decide anyway. They understand that their decisions may not work out. Failure will come. With it will come more opportunities to decide anew between all the competing options that present themselves to the human animal every day. The best decision-makers--who among the world's truly effective people--know that this is nothing to fear.

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