When it comes time to make a decision, as it does many times each day, it’s important not to be too simplistic and jump without thinking, and it’s also important to think about the context and consequences without getting bogged down. Making good decisions in real time is a constant juggling act between jumping to conclusions and analysis paralysis.
Many books have been written and classes taught about the different aspects of decision-making, which can also be programmed into a computer using logical decision-making or Artificial Intelligence. Indeed when vast amounts of information and decisions are programmed into a complex computer such as IBM’s Watson, the computer can often make better decisions than human beings, such as playing master chess or diagnosing human illnesses.
But most of us don’t have access to our own complex computer with Artificial Intelligence. And in most situations we have very little time to decide. After giving this challenge a great deal of thought, I developed a simple framework which I call the Octocision Grid™ because it has eight parts and can help you make better decisions fairly quickly using pencil and paper, any word processor, or in your head once you get familiar with it. This can save you a lot of heartache by helping you avoid jumping too quickly.
The Octocision Grid
- Intentions-Values — What are you trying to accomplish – what are your intentions? And as you seek to accomplish those intentions, what values are relevant to your decision? What are your highest values, and which ones apply to this decision? (If you are a person of faith, you might want to ask God to help you make a good decision as an expression of your values.)
- Options-Consequences — Identify multiple options and consider the consequences of each. If at all possible, use your imagination and consider first-order consequences of each option as well as second- and third-order consequences. This can easily be too much to keep in active awareness, so writing it down can be very helpful. Some experts advise asking yourself, “What could go wrong?” as you think through consequences you want to avoid. Once you’ve identified options and possible consequences, then evaluate each in terms of:
- Benefits-Costs — Benefits can be feelings, health, financial, security, advantage and other positive factors. Costs are not only financial but also effort required, time required, and possible negative consequences like hurting someone’s feelings, which brings us to:
- Self-Others — What are the likely impacts on you of your different options, and what are the possible impacts on other people? Keep in mind that you cannot control other people, and the impacts on others may backfire or cause negative consequences coming back at you if you are not careful. A good way to avoid this is to ask other people who might be impacted, what they want or how they feel before you make a decision.
You can copy this little Octocision Grid on the back of a business card and carry it around with you, or take a photo of it and keep it on your smartphone to help you make better decisions in the future. Once you remember to think things through in this manner, you will prevent a lot of “jumping before thinking” errors and hopefully enjoy life a little more.
What do you think of the Octocision Grid? Your comments are welcome below.