The Olympics are over…now what are we going to do?  Thinking of a summer holiday, but can’t decide where to?

Harder questions than one might think according to an MSNBC report “Should you read this story? Why you’re having trouble deciding” by Bob Sullivan…

  • “If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by deciding what brand of toothpaste to buy or what flight to book, two marketing professors think they know why. ‘Decision quicksand,’ a painful element of 21st century life, ironically strikes hardest when people face trivial choices, say researchers Aner Sela of the University of Florida and Jonah Berger of the Wharton School, in a paper to be published later this year in the ‘Journal of Consumer Research.’ While struggles to pick a new job or a select a mate might seem to demand the most deliberation, decision quicksand strikes even harder over trivial choices. Little decisions cause a big problem precisely because they are surprisingly hard. Faced with too many options, consumers unconsciously connect difficulty with importance, and their brains are tricked into heavy deliberation mode.”

They helpfully offer some fine tips that are just as useful to Leader/Managers making organisational decisions as they are in every day life…

  • Set decision rules and stick to them. In other words, start with a time limit that reflects the true importance of the choice. For example, "I will book a flight in 5 minutes, no matter what."
  • Delegate unimportant decisions: “Honey, you pick the toothpaste.”
  • Breaks can also help. Spending time away from a decision-making process can free the brain from an obsessive loop.

I would add one more…

  • Embrace Failure. Aka, ‘What’s the Worst that Could Happen?’ (with a nod to Dr. Pepper – see above). Instead of thinking of the ‘best decision’, since it is a small issue, just make a decision and then double check that if it did happen to go wrong, are you prepared to be okay with that. One of the basic tenets of embracing failure is ‘Keep Perspective.’ What are we really talking about here? We often use this approach with packing for a trip. Some very trivial issues of should I take this item or leave that one. We often just make a choice and tell ourselves that if we need the item, we can just buy one on the trip and it will double as a souvenir (aka ‘Vacation Tax’).
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