How to Become a Confident, Independent, and Wise Decision-Maker

Brain and decition making
A couple of years back I participated in a three-day experience with a psychologist trained in deconstructing and helping re-construct group dynamics who teaches at Wharton.

With me were a diverse group of eleven peers anywhere from business development to creative direction, client services, analytics, project management, user experience design, and content strategy.

The experience made a strong impression on me and created a bond that only deep neglect and indifference will be able to sever.

I felt the most beneficial aspects of the experience were the awakening of self-awareness, curiosity, desire for clarity, and motivation around collaboration that were rewarded to us when we acknowledged our differences, motivations, and fight/flight instincts while we got past judgement, fear of uncertainty, and the need to document roles and understand social status.

I now have a more robust appreciation for organizational dynamics, one that complements nicely past work on team development. Respect, responsibility, and integrity are the key ingredients to doing the best work collaboratively, not politically charged consensus.

In my work with firms I provide guideposts, anchor points in the ephemeral currents of social, helping businesses understand what is bedrock and what is sand. Making coherent choices about what guides an approach taking into consideration emotions, and how moods and habits can trip us up is especially important in social.

And social is a strategic business driver, a horizontal competence in meaningful brands. The focus of the people who serve those businesses is making better decisions.

How to make Smart Decisions

Eyes-Wide-Open-How-to-Make-SmartDecisionsIn Eyes Wide Open, Noreena Hertz, Associate Director for the Centre for International Business at the University of Cambridge, tackles the topic.

She reveals the extent to which the biggest decisions in our lives are often made on the basis of flawed information, weak assumptions, corrupted data, insufficient scrutiny of others, and a lack of self-knowledge.

The world can be confusing, and the role of culture such as in peer pressure, be a good girl, we don't talk about these things in public, he's the expert, better put on a brave face, etc. stunts our natural curiosity. Our desire to please overwhelms our need to filter and understand.

Because of globalization, mobility, and digital habits, culture is becoming more homogeneous. Humans are inherently social and survival creates a strong incentive to fit in, especially in times of economic (or worse) stress.

Cultural Change Individual Thought
In a time of rapid change, the value of independent thinking decreases and copying becomes efficient to manage risk. I've long been a champion of the value of thinking in a do culture.

Both documenting scientific research and providing real world examples, Hertz argues in favor of averting disasters by making the case for becoming empowered decision-makers, capable of making high-stakes choices and holding accountable those who advise us.

I like the premise of the book and the practical thought starters. Also, I found this independent assessment in The Guardian# helpful in providing strong counter points. In the same way doctors practice medicine, wise decision-making takes practice.

Becoming more confident at decision-making starts with recognizing the nature of the challenge, and asking better questions.

Read a short excerpt here.