As we discovered in our previous article, the decision most likely to meet its objective will be the one that has been carefully considered.
Let’s look at the parameters that will influence the quality of your decision and you need to pay attention to.
The formula for all decision-making is as follows:
1. The objective pursued
Before any decision is taken, it is necessary to define precisely the objective that one wishes to see achieved by the decision to be taken.
What do we really want? What are we trying to achieve by making the decision?
The decision-maker will make sure that this objective is established as accurately as possible.
The objective will contain all the criteria desired and expected by the decision-maker. It will also include the personal values of the decision-maker, which will sometimes act as a guideline, sometimes as limits not to be exceeded. Finally, the objective must contain within it the risk appetite of the decision-maker.
Ideally, the decision-maker will determine the goal before considering the options and arguments. We cannot move forward serenely and effectively in an undefined direction.
However, it is not uncommon for the reflection on the options and arguments lead to the need to clarify or redefine that objective. These back and forth between theobjective and the analysis of the situation, will make it possible to refine the objective and make it even more in line with the values and wishes of the decision-maker.
Refining your goal is taking a step back to better move forward.
A precise objective is crucial since the other parameters (see below) will only make sense insofar as they align with that goal.
Being human, our health, our mood, and the overall circumstances surrounding the decision-making, will impact our values and how we set the goal.
Example of an objective: I want to have a workspace (main objective), bright (criterion 1), quiet (criterion 2), environmentally friendly (value), potentially expensive (risk appetite)
Options are the possible choices to meet the set goal. Deciding is determining which option best meets the objective.
The options can be many or few. One would be tempted to think that the more options there are, the more difficult the decision is to make. However, it can also be very difficult to decide between two options.
Establishing the available options is the step that offers the most room for the imagination. At this stage, reflection has not come into play yet and opening the field of possibilities is allowed. It is also the step that is most likely to be brainstormed.
Care should be taken not to limit the number of options unnecessarily, otherwise a relevant option can be missed.
As with the setting of the objective pursued, the setting of the options to be considered is not immutable. Options can be added during analysis.
Some options will be excluded from the analysis very quickly as their relevance to the objective pursued will prove tenuous. Other options will have to endure the onslaught of arguments to see their fate fixed.
The arguments are the elements that will decide between the different options and will make it possible to consider one of them as the most appropriate to meet the objective set.
Arguments may be in favor of the objective pursued ('for' arguments) or against the objective pursued ('against' arguments).
Risks and opportunities should be considered as arguments. Risk is an 'against' argument that exists at the stage of its examination only as a probability of occurrence. The greater the probability of occurrence, the greater the risk will be. Luck is an argument 'for' that exists at the stage of its examination only as a probability of occurrence. The greater the probability of occurrence, the greater the chance of seeing the element occur.
The arguments themselves are the combination of two factors:
Information is the set of knowledge used by the decision-maker in his decision-making.
Not everyone has the same knowledge. It will depend on the experience, the possibilities, the interest, the memory of each one.
The quantity of information and the quality of information will influence the quality of the decision.
It is important for the decision-maker to surround himself with valid (veracity of the information) and relevant information.
The information will be valid if its veracity is attested.
Their relevance will be established or not according to the links created (see next point).
Reflection is about creating links between the data involved.
The decision-maker must create links between the information itself on the one hand, and between the information and the objective pursued on the other hand. To give meaning to information.
It is this link that will turn information into an argument.
Unrelated information is only general knowledge. And general knowledge does not allow a decision to be based.
The links will help to understand why one option is more likely to meet the objective pursued than another option.
The decision-maker will have to mobilize all his intellectual capacity to ensure that solid logical links are created.
Being human, our health, our mood, and the overall circumstances surrounding decision-making, will impact our cognitive ability and the way we process information and make connections.
Each individual will potentially make different connections between the information according to their own experience.
Where an argument does not seem relevant to us, it will always be necessary to determine whether it is the information itself or the link between the information and the objective pursued that is erroneous.
When several arguments face each other (arguments for and against), it will be necessary to decide between them and to select the most relevant according to our values and personal preferences, which must have been or be integrated into the objective pursued.
4. The decision
The decision is the option chosen following the analysis carried out.
The quality of this decision will depend directly on the number of options considered and the quality of the arguments put forward.
If the number of options considered is less than the number of existing options, there is a risk of missing out on a more timely decision.
If the information considered is inaccurate, the argument will potentially be false and if so, the resulting decision will be unfounded.
If the information is correct but there is no link between this information and the objective pursued, the decision will not be motivated.
If the analysis shows that no option is able to fully satisfy the objective pursued, the decision-maker will choose the option that comes closest to it or decide to postpone decision-making until another option arises. (Note that postponing decision-making may also be the most appropriate policy option in some cases.)
To make the best decision, the rational decision-maker will therefore ideally have determined a complete and precise objective encompassing his values, considered all possible options, will have surrounded himself with numerous and accurate information and will have evaluated the relevance of each piece of information to the objective set.
Foundations of the different parameters and risk for the final decision.
Options can be based on imagination. This imagination can be complete and unbridled. The only risk of adding wacky options is a waste of time.
Information is based on research and memory. Information can be delivered in large quantities. But this freedom is limited by the need to provide truthful information. False information could distort an argument and significantly damage the quality of the decision.
Reflection, as the name suggests, cannot be based on imagination. It is not a question of imagining, but of demonstrating by logical reasoning. Barring dumb luck, the risk of poor performance of this task will harm the quality of the decision.
Impact of circumstances surrounding decision-making (health, mood, external circumstances, ...)
We are only human. Our health, our moods, the circumstances surrounding decision-making (urgency, ...) are likely to influence each parameter of decision-making.
The following may be impacted:
· The objective set: circumstances can influence the values and desires of the decision-maker.
· Options: Circumstances will affect the decision-maker's capacity for imagination and projection.
· Information: The decision-maker's memory may fluctuate depending on the circumstances surrounding the decision-making.
· Reflection: depending on his state and circumstances, the decision-maker will establish more or less relevant links between the information and between the information and the objective set. A tired mind may lack logic in making connections.
Importance of consciousness
Certain information and links between the information and between the information and the objective, intervene unconsciously for the decision-maker.
It will be important for the decision-maker to become as aware as possible of these elements of information and reflection. Failing to become aware of it, even a posteriori, the decision-maker could find himself in a situation of blockage, not understanding the unconscious element blocking or complicating the decision-making, or making a decision that he scarcely explain.
In future posts, we will complete and refine this basic formula so that it covers all decision-making hypothesis and allows you to improve all your decisions.