In this week’s blog we will be continuing the discussion based on the question “When is good, good enough.” In the last posting we talked about setting the height of the bar and how there are a number of factors that will determine a height that is reasonable.
One of the areas I have seen over the years where the height of the bar becomes an issue is the area of decision making. We often expect people to make decisions as we believe we would have in the same situation. This is often despite the difference in experience or knowledge level, and the reality that we were not there at that moment forced to make the decision.
We often assume that the decision made at the time was based on examining all the options available to the person, precluding options that would not work and selecting the best option. This however is not always feasible or reasonable especially in situations where there are time pressures and a decision must be made quickly and may not be the way we make decisions in those situations.
Gary Klein in his book Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions talks about his research into recognition primed decision-making. Klein and his associates found that in circumstances similar to what police officers, fire commanders and military personnel face in the field they do not examine a range of options. They use a singular evaluation approach whereby they identify one option that will suffice to solve the problem. Klein refers to the decision-making strategy Herbert Simon (Nobel Prize winner in Economics) referred to as satisficing: selecting the first option that works. Satisficing is more efficient than optimizing – especially in situations where there is greater time pressure, dynamic conditions and ill-defined goals, which refers to trying to come up with the best strategy.
What I believe we can take from Klein’s research is the importance of continuous training and the value in learning from experience. In my opinion these factors can help us with both the recognition and priming components of Recognition Primed Decision Making. By enhancing these areas we can move closer to optimizing the end decision.
Another interesting philosophy relating to decision making comes from retired General Colin Powell. Powell believes in the 40 – 70 Rule.
Part I: “Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired.”
Part II: “Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.”
Don’t take action if you have only enough information to give you less than a 40 percent chance of being right, but don’t wait until you have enough facts to be 100 percent sure, because by then it is almost always too late. Today, excessive delays in the name of information-gathering breeds “analysis paralysis.” Procrastination in the name of reducing risk actually increases risk.
This week’s challenge: Think about the role of decision making in your life and your job. How do decisions that we make, as well as those that others make influence out opinion of the decision maker? Are there decisions where good is good enough? What do we do to enhance our decision making abilities as well as those abilities of those around us?
Check back on Tuesday for Part 3 or better yet subscribe and automatically get all the postings automatically.