4 Simple Steps to Better Decision Making
What Should I Do?
Have you ever made an important decision affecting your Homecare business and later wish you had decided to do something else that now seems so apparent? I’m sure you are thinking, “Of course, Captain Obvious. That’s why they say hindsight is 20/20.” While that’s true, there are proven ways to improve your decision making and get better outcomes. In fact, there are four simple steps that you can take to help you make better decisions and get better results. Collectively the framework is known by the acronym WRAP that is addressed by the Heath Brothers in their book, Decisive.
Widen Your Options
Many, if not most people, when they encounter an important problem think of a solution and then move forward with implementing their fix. This is great if it works, but your chances of making a good strategic decision if you only consider one solution is greatly reduced. In fact, your chances of making a good decision are six times more likely if you consider more than one alternative. To improve your odds of success, consider at least two robust options for every important decision you make. This step alone can improve your decision making and results dramatically.
Reality Test Your Assumptions
It is important that your assumptions about the problem or issue are accurate, so it’s equally important that you have good data upon which to base those assumptions because we all see things through the lens of your own experience and your gut instinct can often be mistaken. The work of Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman and others demonstrates that we all have personal biases, which can impact the quality of your decision making, i.e. your gut or intuition. This is particularly true when evaluating information relating to an important decision. Research indicates that we are twice as likely to consider information that confirms our assumptions versus information that disconfirms them. For this reason, it is good for you to vigorously debate your assumptions with your team using data whenever possible – note: if nobody on your team has a differing perspective, assign someone to be the devil’s advocate and take the opposing position.
Another approach is to generate a list of reasons why you shouldn’t make the decision you are considering, i.e. what could go wrong with the proposed decision, what could I do with the resources instead, etc.
One additional idea is to test the proposed decision with a small experiment or limited implementation if it is feasible, i.e. try it out in the real world. You find out a lot of things once you implement that may be hard to anticipate. Doing it on an experimental or limited basis helps you gain insight while limiting your risk.
Attain Some Distance
It is important to try to distance yourself from the proposed decision you have chosen. There are very strong psychological forces that reinforces the status quo once you lock in on a decision. In order to help avoid this coloring your decision making, you can take several different paths to try to be more objective. One method is to trick your brain by asking yourself, “If I were no longer here, what would the person who succeeded me do?” Another method is to get outsiders who have no involvement to evaluate and provide you feedback that may reveal insights that you and your team may not be able to see. One additional method suggested by the Heath brothers is to ask yourself how you will feel about this decision 10 minutes later, 10 months later and 10 years later.
Prepare To Be Wrong
Because we aren’t perfect, we often make decisions that turn out to be wrong or could have turned out better. Set up a measurable outcome of success and timeline for its achievement (the Heath brothers refer to this as a trip line), e.g. you should see a decrease in monthly caregiver turnover by XX percent by XX/XX date. Setting the criteria in advance is important so you don’t justify a lower than expected outcome when the results are in. You can use your actual performance versus your expectation to adjust your plans as well as evaluate your decision.
So, remember to WRAP your important decisions to get better outcomes: Widen your options, Reality test your assumptions, Attain some distance, Prepare to be wrong.
To find out how SmartCare™ software and support can help you make better data based decisions,
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Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (Crown Business, 2013)
Kahneman, Daniel, Thinking Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011)