Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stuck in Decision Making - How to Unblock and Move on

Sometimes, the decision making is cumbersome. You ponder all available options, you want to understand all implications. You do not know how to progress the decision. It could be this or that, or wait,...

It all boils down that you have no idea how to get the decision made.

Solution 1: Roll the dice

If you have several options, just roll the dice - or if you have only two options, throw a coin. Number all your options. If you have less than six, this works best. If you have more than six, take two dice, but roll them in sequence and have 1-1, 1-2 til 1-6, 2-1, 2-2, ... until 6-6 as options, since 1 to 12 numbers are not evenly distributed. When there are numbers shown without a corresponding option, just roll the dice again, if the dice show a number that you have not included in your option list.

If you can accept the solution that you have taken - really by chance - than you are done. Decision made. Move on.

If you cannot accept this solution, do not directly roll the dice again. Review carefully, why you do not like the option. Forced with taking an unwanted option you tend to find some reasons that you had not considered beforehand. If this is an important point, add it to your evaluation list and reevaluate the other options as well. Sometimes, many other options disappear and you have one choice left, that fulfills all your evaluation criteria.

If you really cannot live with the solution picked by the dice and there are several other options, take out the option from your decision base and rerun the process again.

We are used to random picking of choices from early on, it is a simple acceptable solution for everyone. It is fast, if it works, it forces you to rethink the options, if you do not want to accept the result.

Solution 2: Make a preliminary decision

Sometimes, you can avoid the hassle with finding the dice and make the decision by taking one option tentatively and run through the consequences what would happen, if you take this decision. Mentally take the decision and kick the tires. Test in your head, if the options would work, review the results and ensure that it is the right decision. If you are in doubt, carefully review, why you are in doubt and use this to create further evaluation criteria.

This may work well in hiring, staffing or promotion situations. Imagine, which of the candidates would work well in the future environment. Sometimes, you can see clearly, how the different personalities and capabilities will work out. In other times, you do not have any idea. Than it may be worthwhile to create a project or task assignment that will help you to see a clearer picture.

Solution 3: Break down the decision in parts

The last possibility is to break won the decision into smaller parts that are easier to make. Sometimes you can break down the ten choices in three to four groups of similar options and it is easier to make the decision about the group and then decide in the smaller selection of the group. This works especially well, if you are overwhelmed with the sheer number of options. 

If you want to buy a car and you look at the 20 different car makes, you may be able to break the decision down into a grouping - American car, European car or Asian car - and decide first on the general idea and then select between the different models. Or you could decide based on an important criteria for the use of the car, something like the gas mileage.

Getting unstuck means taking a different approach

If you are not changing your approach, you will not solve your problems. Use one of the three solutions mentioned above and you will find a good possibility to move on. 

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