Friday, August 9, 2013

Play the Tape All the Way to the End and Other Advice on How to Make Better Decisions!

NO, this is not a post about 80s bands! 

YES, I am betraying my age!

But I LOVE this advice from one of my wonderful friends and wanted to share it with you.

If you want to make better decisions for your organization, career, or family, "play the tape all the way to the end."

For example, when vetting a new marketing or fundraising opportunity. Don't get swept up in delusions of grandeur and millions in new money and immediately sign on the dotted line. 

Pause. Ask questions. Pause again.

Write out all the pros and cons of the deal.  

  1. Talk to a cheerleader.  What could go right? We raise a ton of money for our mission. We get amazing PR. We attract even more funding. (We all get raises!)  Yippee!
  2. Talk to a devil's advocate. What could go wrong?  We get waaayyy off mission.  We squander precious resources. We are unable to execute the program.  We alienate current funders. #FAIL
  3. Seek expert advice. Hint: Expertise = Experience not Title! Talk to someone who has already traversed this road TWICE!
In short, "play the tape all the way to the end." And ONLY THEN make your "go/no go" decision.

I don't know about you but I often decide with my gut. I am intuitive and can literally FEEL the rightness or wrongness of a next move. But making decisions based on intuition alone can be perilous. 

Especially, in high risk (and highly emotional) situations, we need the discipline, tools, and criterion for good decision making. And we have to be willing to be wrong to get it right!

In Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (which you MUST read), Chip and Dan Heath remind us that,
"Overconfidence about the future disrupts our decisions.  It makes us lackadaisical about preparing for problems.  It tempts us to ignore signs of early failure. It leaves us unprepared for pleasant surprises...Fighting overconfidence means we've got to treat the future as a spectrum, not a point."
And we have no excuse for not doing our due diligence. (Say that 10x fast!)  There are great tools out there, including Decisive to help us walk carefully and CONSCIOUSLY through alternatives.

Predicting the future is a crap shoot.  There are ALWAYS surprises in life and work. But you significantly increase your chances of success when you spend time (breathing!) and thoroughly vetting multiple scenarios.

Here's to better decision making!

Thanks M3!



Jim Siegel said...

Jocelyn -- thanks for this!

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