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How Using a Decision Journal can Help you Make Better Decisions

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I did not realize how much decisions matter:

After all, in most knowledge organizations, your product is decisions: you should care enormously whether you’re making good ones or bad ones. “There ought to be something that is the equivalent to the quality control you can find in manufacturing.”

We know that a good decision process matters more than analysis by a factor of six. A process or framework for making decisions, however, is only one part of an overall approach to making better decisions.

Great idea but it requires discipline and humility:

“The idea,” says Michael Mauboussin, “is whenever you are making a consequential decision, write down what you decided, why you decided as you did, what you expect to happen, and if you’re so inclined, how you feel mentally and physically.”

Whenever you’re making a consequential decision either individually or as part of a group you take a moment and write down:

  1. The situation or context;
  2. The problem statement or frame;
  3. The variables that govern the situation;
  4. The complications or complexity as you see it;
  5. Alternatives that were seriously considered and why they were not chosen; (think:the work required to have an opinion).
  6. A paragraph explaining the range of outcomes
  7. A paragraph explaining what you expect to happen and, importantly, the reasoning and actual probabilities you assign to each. (The degree of confidence matters, a lot.)
  8. Time of day the decision was made and how you feel physically and mentally (if you’re tired, for example, write it down.)

Of course, this can be tailored to the situation and context. Specific decisions might include tradeoffs, weighting criteria, or other relevant factors.

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