General

PrOACT (Eight keys to Effective Decision Making)

Rachael Dickson Written by Rachael Dickson · 1 min read >

Making right decisions

1. Work on the right decision problem (Problem)
The way you frame your decision at the outset can make all the difference. To choose well, you need to state your decision problems carefully, acknowledge their complexity, and avoid unwarranted assumptions and option-limiting prejudices.

2. Specify your objectives (Objectives)
Your decision should get you where you want to go. If you have to hire a new employee, do I want someone who is disciplined or otherwise? Ask yourself what you most want to accomplish and which of your interests, values, concerns, fears, and aspirations are most relevant to achieving your goal. Thinking through your objectives will give direction to your decision making.

3. Create Imaginative alternatives (Alternatives)
Your alternatives represent the different courses of action you have to choose from. If you didn’t have different alternatives, you won’t be facing a decision. Remember: Your decision can be no better than your best alternatives.

4. Understand the consequences (Consequences)
How well do your alternatives satisfy your objectives? Alternatives beckon and beguile, but beyond them lie sometimes sobering, sometimes exciting consequences. Assessing frankly the consequences of each alternative will help you to identify those that best meet your objectives.

5. Grapple with your trade-offs (Trade-offs)
Because objectives frequently conflict with one another you’ll need to strike a balance. Some of this must sometimes be sacrificed in favor of some of that. In most complex decisions, there is no perfect alternative. Different alternatives fulfill different constellations of objectives. Your task is to choose intelligently among the less-than-perfect possibilities. To do so, set priorities by openly addressing the need for trade-offs among competing objectives.

A few other additions should be considered as well.

6. Clarify your uncertainties
Uncertainty makes choosing far more difficult. But effective decision-making demands that you confront uncertainty, by judging the likelihood of different outcomes and assessing their possible impacts.

7. Think hard about your risk tolerance
When decisions involve uncertainties, the desired consequence may not be the one that actually results. Conscious awareness of your willingness to accept risk will make your decision-making process smoother and more effective. It will help you to choose an alternative with the right level of risk for you.

8. Consider linked decisions
What you decide today could influence your choices tomorrow and your goals for tomorrow should influence your choices today. Thus, many important decisions are linked over time. The key to dealing effectively with linked decisions is to isolate and resolve near-term issues while gathering the information needed to resolve those that will arise later. By sequencing your actions to fully exploit what you learn along the way, you will be doing your best, despite an uncertain world, to make smarter choices.

The 8 PrOACT elements provide a framework that can profoundly redirect your decision-making, enriching your possibilities and increasing your chances of finding a satisfying and convenient solution.

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