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Archive for decision making

In Search of Deeper Learning

Deep Learning

A new book by Mehta and Fine about remaking U.S. high schools says their research shows it is the extra curricular work in teams to accomplish a big task, such as putting on a theater production, where they learned and enjoyed the most.
The authors, credit these type of projects with instilling critical thinking, collaboration, and effective communication, all I suggest essential in the business world. The authors also included content mastery though I would say given the ease of using technology to look things up, is not as important as having enough knowledge to recognize what you do and don’t know.
Instilling the the skills that make up critical thinking can improve collaboration and effective communication because it requires bringing in various viewpoints, asking good questions, listening effectively to each other, and working through more than one logical position or argument.

Your Mental Shortcuts

Mental shortcuts, we all make them throughout the day. In a sense, they are necessary coping mechanisms your brain has been developing your whole life. Because there is no way to pay equal attention to everything within eyesight, earshot, and close enough to touch, our brain has developed filters to let in what it believes you need to know and leave out a large majority of what is going on around you.
Consider for a moment how you function during your daily drive or ride, or even walk, to work.
Most of what you pass by is a blur. Most of what you pass you take little or no interest. So much so that when you arrive at your destination you will not remember seeing or hearing most of what was actually there.
Your cognitive bias made those decisions for you. The filters you have built up to protect yourself from over stimulation and clutter worked.
But, and that is a big but, did you miss something that in the past wasn’t important but now is? Did you assume you knew what happened but really didn’t?
We can’t function in a busy world without our filters and we can’t take for granted that we didn’t miss anything important.
So what can you do? Ask others what they saw and heard. Ask for other viewpoints, other experiences, to add to your own. Be open minded about what you might have missed or added into a scene because of your filters, your own cognitive biases. They, too, have biases. Together you may both get a more complete picture.
Ask open questions and listen openly to the answers.

Are You a Thought Leader?

Thought leader
Is this a compliment or an insult?
If you are truly one of the knowledgeable ones in a particular field, others may be looking up to you, expecting you to know more than they do. They may come to you with questions and take what you say as truth.

We can learn from what we know about Socrates (470 – 399 BC), after all these years, not to jump in with a solution, an answer. First ask many questions so that you both are thinking more deeply about the problem. In many cases the person with the problem will discover the answer.

One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “seek first to understand before seeking to be understood,” is a more current reminder to listen, ask questions, learn, before offering your thoughts, even if you are considered a thought leader.

What if Someone Asks for Your Help With a Problem They are Having?

When an employee, family member, or friend brings you problem they are facing, how can you tell if they want solutions from you or for you to just listen?

Ask them.

Also if they are looking for a solution, ask first what they have tried or thought they could try. Get them thinking first.

Then if it does come down to offering your ideas, offer options, plural, so they can choose, and make it clear that these are ideas that if they choose something different you won’t be hurt. The choice is still their own.

Making Decisions With Too Much Data

Making decisions with too much data is just as difficult and risky as making a decision with too little data.

There are ways to be logical and move forward in either case.

With too little data, you may want to step back and list or mind map the missing pieces. Which of them are critical, which, if known, would lead to very different answers, which can be discovered before moving on, and which would have little impact and are not worth pursuing. Then you can seek out or make estimates on the missing data noting, as you move forward, what needs a comment or footnote.

With too much data, again you may want to organize what you have into categories, perhaps with sticky notes you can cluster on a board or on a mind map. It’s important to be able to see the big picture all at one time. Then you can highlight, circle or bring to the forefront, the groups that will impact results the most. The others can go on an imaginary parking lot or into the background so you can focus on the most important without distractions.

In neither case, too much or too little data, do you want to feel so stuck that nothing happens. Doing nothing is a decision, too, but one that happens to you instead of by you.

Skepticism vs Cynicism

Skepticism vs Cynicism

Both attitudes force us to question what we and others are doing or suggesting. Both can have some healthy self searching and lead to good debates. But skepticism can end in great support for new ideas once questions are explored and answered while cynicism doesn’t give in or give up.

Be careful of people who are cynics but say or think they are skeptics.

Ask questions like what would it take to change your mind? How will you support this new effort if the majority of evidence says to move ahead?

YOUR CREATIVITY GENIUS

Yes, genius.

Everyone has it yet most people describe themselves as having no creativity.

As children we were all free to try anything.  I decided to draw on the wall behind a door in our apartment.  I felt proud of my colorful

scribbles until my mother discovered it.  And, yes, I was punished.  I think they had to paint the whole wall.

We are all creative in our own way.

Not all creativity comes from big leaps.  Often small differences can make big differences.

Creative ideas that turn out to be useful are innovation.

The pet rock was creative but its usefulness, as a joke, was limited.  As a result it didn’t have much usefulness, nor innovation.

Allow room for your creative genius to think, grow, and try things out.

Let us know your thoughts on YOUR CREATIVITY GENIUS. You can email us at Hazel.Wagner@b9d.com

About Hazel

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Hazel Wagner, PhD, MBA, CMC, Professional Speaker, Author, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Brain Facilitator

ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS
PhD, MA, BA Mathematics
MBA International Marketing & Finance
Taught in MBA Programs for Kellogg Graduate School of Management, DePaul Graduate School of Business, and Cardean

BUSINESS CREDENTIALS
15 years in the Computer Industry: GE, Digital Equipment Corp.

CONSULTING CREDENTIALS
14 years consulting for start-ups through F100 companies, Certified Management Consultant

INTERNATIONAL SPEAKING CREDENTIALS
Sales Meeting kick-offs and keynotes, workshops, seminars for worldwide companies, American Management Association, National Speaker Association, American Marketing Association, Singapore Executive Management Seminar, AMA Tokyo, CMC Canadian Management Centre.

 

Have you ever made a decision and then feared it was the wrong one?

Businesswoman pain

Have you ever made a decision and then immediately started to second-guess yourself? You likely kept going back over the problem and how you solved it and then began to have doubts.

Or maybe you developed a great solution to a work problem only to find that your associates and boss don’t see it your way and you can’t figure out how to convince them with your logic that you can see so clearly.

If you have been following my writings and speeches for a while you know that decision-making is one of my main topics. I work with groups to help them sharpen their decision-making thinking and their tools for explaining their results.

I just finished reading “How the Wise Decide” by Zeckhauser and Sandusky. They spent years researching the subject by interviewing great leaders. In a sense they have given me proof to quote for the methods I have been advocating for some time. This should give you extra comfort in applying these techniques.

I definitely recommend the book.

The authors culled the principles into 6 main categories.

  1. Go directly to the source yourself. Even though the leaders they studied ran very large organizations and had tremendous responsibilities, these leaders said that instead of taking all their information filtered through their reports they felt the need to gather some of their intelligence directly from the source, the customers, suppliers, or others.
  2. Seek out people who will not be afraid to tell you that you are wrong. Use advisors with enough diversity of backgrounds and thinking styles to allow you to see your topic from several different viewpoints. These leaders wanted to see and hear opinions challenged (but not personal attacks).
  3. Treat risk as one of the parameters to be compared not something to be avoided. Also very interesting: reward good decisions even when the end result doesn’t work out. We can’t know which is the best decision out of alternatives but we can compare and choose good decisions. Openly discuss failures and missteps to learn from them, not to blame. When I was in direct sales I sat down with my manager and team to go over what I had done to try to win a sale and what had gone wrong. We could all learn from my mistakes instead of descending into denial.
  4. Keep the organization’s vision front-and-center. Make decisions based on whether or not it moves the organization closer to the vision
  5. “Listen with purpose.” My expression is to “listen for meaning.” Both descriptions help you focus on what is being said in a way that allows you to understand and paraphrase back.
  6. Be transparent in leading your organization. Share how and why decisions were made. Challenges, vision, and mission guide the leader as well as everyone else in the organization.

One more point I would add, the best decisions are not one-time unique situations but are made up of a series of smaller decisions that are part of an overall strategy.

Add the power to brainstorming so that it works

The call for brainstorming happens thousands of times a day, all over the world, and especially in business environments.  Why?  Because to come up with good solutions, better ideas, more effective methods and innovation you want to start with options.  First, before making a decision, you need to know about what choices you have and then to compare them.  Sometimes this process, of necessity, takes place in a few seconds.  Sometimes it requires collection of data or opinions that take a long time.  In any case, more options to compare and you will come up with a better thought out solution, and a better explanation or defense of that solution if asked.