In our previous blog post, Recognizing the 20 Decision-Making Biases, we explored common biases and provided tips to address them. Being aware of decision-making biases is a good start, but difficult to do. Challenges with decision-making go beyond biases. Who should make the decision? How should it be made? The resources below share thinking by experts in the area of decision-making.
How to Avoid Common Decision-Making Biases? Good Processes Help.
The Heath brothers, co-authors of Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, believe a good process can help teams avoid falling into the bias trap. They defined the WRAP process as follows:
Widen your options
Don’t frame your question as "Yes/No" or put yourself in a situation where you can only select one of two "right" answers. Maybe there are other, better solutions. For example, during a recent product design meeting at Meeteor, our product manager asked, “Beyond the proposals we just reviewed, are there any other options that can address the issue?”
Reality-Test your assumptions
When evaluating your options, the confirmation bias (looking for points that prove what you already thought) may be skewing the information you collected. Design some experiments to test your assumptions so you have data rather than just your intuition to support your decision.
Attain distance before deciding
You may feel too attached to the choices in front of you. Take a break for a couple of hours or even until the next day to reflect on and clarify your priorities.
Prepare to be wrong
No one knows how the future will unfold. Prepare for the worst and get ready to adjust your approach.
What Decision-making Method to Use? It Depends on the Situation.
You might ask yourself: Should we vote? Should we try to reach a consensus? Can someone just decide for the team?
It can be a struggle for leaders to balance inclusion and efficiency. There are many ways to make a solid decision, but what method is most effective in a particular situation? Jesse Lyn Stoner, a seasoned business consultant, suggest we ask two questions to help analyze the situation before deciding on a decision-making method:
Do you have all the information you need to make a decision?
How much does this decision affect the team’s mission and how does it impact other team members?
After answering these two questions, you can use the matrix below to identify the most appropriate decision-making method for the situation. Sometimes decisions are best made collaboratively and other times it’s best for one person to decide.
Learn more about the definition of each decision type in this article on the Situational Team Decision-Making Model.
How to Bring These Practices into Decision-Making Meetings?
Practices and processes are great in theory, but often difficult to implement. Here are a few practical steps you can take to start making better decisions today.
If you are holding a brainstorming meeting, begin by reviewing the WRAP model. Ask the group to clarify a few ground rules (norms) to help remind them not to rush to a conclusion.
Use the Situational Model to decide on the optimal decision-making method. Then be explicit about the approach you chose. Share how the decision will be made prior to the meeting by including it in your meeting invitation. Acknowledge the method at the beginning of your meeting as well.
Share the Decison-making Biases chart with your team. Before making a decision, ask the group if they think any of these biases may be at play. Determine any appropriate next steps to test or address the biases that may be clouding judgement.
Make sure the participants have the necessary information in advance of the meeting in order to make a good decision. A good practice is to attach prework to the invite.
How do you make decisions at work? What are resources that have helped you?