Posts Tagged ‘decision making’

Even the OddsEven the Odds by Karen Firestone offers readers a persuasive assessment of risk and how to evaluate it, analyze it, and make sensible choices in business and in life. Firestone’s approach and corresponding examples illustrate different types of risk and how the risks were or could have been avoided by implementing her four tenets of risk taking. The book serves as a guide to understanding the broader implications of risk and how it guides decision making. The risk-assessment activities presented can help improve the odds of success whether a person is making an investment, changing careers, or simply deciding where to have dinner.

Risk is everywhere. While people’s definitions of or tolerance for risk vary, most can agree that assessing risk is essential to achieving an optimal outcome, whether it is in business or life. There are four tenets to sensible risk taking that, if implemented, can make decision making a more positive and successful endeavor:

1. Right size the risk. It is important to determine the actual scope of the risk at hand. People need to know how much is really at stake and how much potential reward or benefit may be incurred if the risk pays off.

2. Right time the risk. The timing of the risk can make all the difference. Sometimes the risk will change based on when the action takes place.

3. Rely on knowledge, skills, and experience. By sticking with what they know, people are able to even the odds. Going outside of their comfort zones can increase their risk of failure.

4. Maintain a healthy skepticism. Quite often, projections and forecasts are unrealistic and can bring a false sense of confidence. People who remain skeptical and do their own research reduce their risks.

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The Power of 50 BitsPeople’s natural inclinations when making decisions tend to default to patterns that do not help them in the long run. While there is broad agreement among researchers about the science underpinning these tendencies, people need more solutions to help overcome the gap between what they really want to do and what they actually do. In The Power of Fifty Bits, Bob Nease offers a seven-pronged strategy to deal with common decision-making failures. He explains why people struggle with inattention and inertia and demonstrates how simple changes in environment can nudge people toward better overall outcomes.

People typically have good intentions, but they often struggle to act on them. This is because people’s brains have evolved in a way that makes inattention and inertia the two primary obstacles to action. Fifty bits design acknowledges the brain’s natural limitations and addresses them with the following seven strategies:

  1. Require choice: Interrupting a process, usually an existing one, and forcing a person to make a decision before he or she can continue the process.
  2. Lock in good intentions: Making some type of statement–a pledge, a signed document, or automatic reaction–in the present, which increases the chances that people will follow through on good behavior in the future.
  3. Let it ride: Making the desired behavior the default and asking people to opt out of a behavior rather than opt in, thereby using inattention and inertia for good.
  4. Get in the flow: Placing a cue or call to action in a location where people have already devoted their attention.
  5. Reframe the choices: Altering what a cue triggers in people, which directs people’s attention toward some aspects of an issue and away from others.
  6. Piggyback it: Making a behavior typically subject to inertia and/or inattention the side effect of something that people seek out or find pleasurable.
  7. Simplify…wisely: Removing barriers to change or improving fluency (the relative ease with which the brain processes information). Simplification of either type is usually, though not always, a smart design choice.

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The 5 ChoicesAs the demands of work and home life continue to escalate, people are feeling more overextended, overwhelmed, and overstressed than ever before. However, at the same time, people want to be more meaningfully productive and live personally fulfilling lives. In The 5 Choices, Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne explain how extraordinary productivity and personal fulfillment is attainable for everyone—it just requires making the right choices when it comes to managing decisions, attention, and energy. The authors present a matrixed and logical process for choosing, on an ongoing basis, how and where to best spend one’s time and attention in order to create a productive and fulfilled life.

According to the authors:

  • Anyone can do extraordinary work. Every person has unique gifts, skills, and talents he or she brings to the table. By making the right decisions about which activities to focus attention on and ensuring energy is expended and replenished appropriately, those gifts, skills, and talents can be maximized for extraordinary results.
  • Being extraordinarily productive is both easier and harder than ever before. In the high-tech information age, individuals have more opportunities than ever to make significant contributions in their work lives. However, the information age also brings with it a constant barrage of demands that can distract them from getting the most important work done.
  • Do more by doing less. Being busy is often confused with being productive. By focusing efforts on the truly important things, individuals can do less overall while ultimately achieving more.
  • People can change their brains. The brain is capable of both reactive (automatic) decision making and proactive(thought-based) decision making. By becoming more conscious and less automatic in decision making, people can change their brains to be more thoughtful on an ongoing basis, which leads to better choices in the long term.
  • Do not just think–do! Thinking about making life changes is well and good, but without a developed plan for executing these changes, they are nothing more than wishful thinking. Extraordinary productivity requires a plan, a schedule, and follow-through.
  • Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Technology has the capability to make life much easier by streamlining processes, enhancing communication, and creating new opportunities. However, it can also be distracting, intrusive, and a time waster if not used properly. The goal is to rule technology rather than be ruled by it.
  • Manage energy, not time. There are myriad time management systems to help people make better use of their time. The problem is that time is finite. It makes better sense to manage energy by continually using it and replenishing it to get the right things done in the time available.
  • Extraordinary productivity is a choice. People must choose between operating on “autopilot” and giving in to the lure of time-wasting activities or consciously taking charge of decisions regarding how to spend their time.

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A Team of LeadersIn today’s business world it is challenging for companies to both deal with problems and changes internally and at the same time be productive and competitive in the marketplace. In A Team of Leaders, Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff show readers how to create an environment where everyone is a leader. The lives of team leaders or supervisors can be fraught with frustration, as pressure is exerted on them from both the top and the bottom, as well as from the public who use their companies’ products or services. Some companies seek to lessen this stress by adopting team environments, which can be helpful but still puts leaders at the top of these teams. Building teams of leaders, however, replaces the supervisor-employee relationship with teams that eventually manage themselves.

The authors provide the following advice to readers:

  • The amount of involvement and interest a work force generally projects is relevant to how leader-focused that group is designed to be. Companies need to evaluate where their teams are. Teams possess a greater sense of ownership when all members have input and are equally informed about what is going on.
  • Different designs create different teams. The way teams are designed will predict the way they look and behave. Companies’ structures and management systems should be closely aligned with their overall strategies to begin with, which makes it easier for teams to have common visions and purposes.
  • Within teams, the goal is for everyone to be leaders. Each employee should have an individual development plan and recognition for accomplishments, and in this way all employees will be able to foresee future actions and promotions within the teams.
  • Leaders want to be contributors. Leadership is encouraged when each member of the team knows exactly what his or her contribution is to the overall mission. Regular feedback about the progress the team is making and how it is contributing to the overall goals of the company is extremely helpful.
  • Knowledge management is important and multi-faceted. Teams need to have data and information, but also knowledge about procedures, policies and other organizational materials, in addition to working knowledge of the values and beliefs of their companies. Each member should master the skills needed to perform his or her own functions and have a general idea of what others do to contribute.

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