Decision Making

Now that we have a sense for our implicit biases, let’s talk about making sound decisions. Like the previous topic, there are many kinds of decisions leaders need to make, and a variety of tools to help us make good decisions.

Before you dive in, I encourage you to take a few minutes and consider some decisions that are in front of you right now. Write them down, and consider the consequences of each choice. Then, read/watch the content in this section and go back to your list, and think about how you might approach these decisions differently.

There is a lot of content in this module – choose what resonates the most with you, but let’s start with these four articles:

Faced with a Tough Decision? The Key to Choosing May Be Your Mindset
(Meghan Keane and Sylvie Douglis interview Ruth Change, University of Oxford. Listen to the podcast (20 minutes) at the top of the page or read the transcript highlights).

More Ruth Change on Decision Making and Building Commitment (Rutgers Magazine)

Seven Strategies for Better Group Decision Making
(Torben Emmerling and Duncan Rooders, Harvard Business Review, 2020)

The Four Rs of High Stakes Decision Making
(Eric J. McNulty, Strategy + Business, 2014)

Additional Resources (Optional)

TED Playlist on Making Choices and Decisions – some great insight here, including:

Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice – Too many choices can hinder decision making.

Dan Gilbert: Why We Make Bad Decisions

Patrick McGinnis: How to Make Faster Decisions

Derek Abbott – Should You Trust Unanimous Decisions?

Creative consultants Dan and Chip Heath authored the book, “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”. It’s a great book based on research in psychology and field observation. You can watch a 54 minute video summary here, Decisive,

Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats – One of the ways to overcome individual and group biases in decision making is to intentionally build diversity of thought into the process. The Six Thinking Hats method, developed by Edward de Bono, has been used to solve complex problems in many contexts. Read the book, or check out some of these resources as an introduction to the concept:

Six Thinking Hats Video Introduction (6 minutes)

Six Thinking Hats Introduction (text)

Six Thinking Hats in Storyboard

Polarity Management – Barry Johnson’ book, Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems, outlines how to tackle difficult “unsolvable” problems by looking at them through what he calls a polarity of stability and change, rather than simply advantages and disadvantages. Here is a deep dive into Barry’s Polarity Management Process:

Leading Change through Polarity Management (Video 7 minutes – CCL – Nick Petrie and Phil Willburn)

Polarity Thinking – Part 1 and Part 2 (Video – 1 hour – A Conversation with Barry Johnson)

Polarity Thinking – Part 3 and 4 (Video – 1.5 hour – A Conversation with Barry Johnson)