Last Friday, LexisNexis hosted an event with the North Carolina Bar Association that featured Dan Heath, the New York Times bestselling co-author of Made to Stick and Switch. Dan provided an entertaining and educational view on making decisions based on Dan and his brother Chip, have a new book coming out, Decisive, due out in [...]
Last Friday, LexisNexis hosted an event with the North Carolina Bar Association that featured Dan Heath, the New York Times bestselling co-author of Made to Stick and Switch. Dan provided an entertaining and educational view on making decisions based on Dan and his brother Chip, have a new book coming out, Decisive, due out in early 2013.
As attorneys, the decisions you make are more than just winning or losing—they could mean the difference between life and death for your clients. That pressure, coupled with irrational fears and internal doubts, means that many of us aren’t as decisive as we can be or need to be. And it’s costing us plenty in terms of job satisfaction, personal growth and professional success.
One of the points he shared with us was a study conducted with 2,200 executives where 60% reported bad decisions were as frequent as good ones. Also, not all decisions are bad; sometimes you have to trust your gut. Below are a few examples of situations where decisions had to be made that help highlight good and bad practices.
There was a story years ago about a truck that went under a bridge and didn’t clear it and was obviously stuck. So many adults stood around trying to figure out how to solve the problem. It was a little girl that came up with the final solution to let the air out of the tires. Sometimes we are so focused on the problem that we are not looking at the solution, which does not always have to be complex.
You’ve likely experienced being in a meeting where there was a person adamant on a specific point. And any feedback provided was ignored unless it actually supported their agenda. This type of narrow thinking can backfire when it doesn’t end with a successful outcome.
There is something to the phrase “sleep on it.” When you have a tough decision, take some time to let the rational side of your brain to catch up with the emotional side. You probably run across this as lawyers when you are feeling pressured to settle a case, or make a decision of whether to take on a new client that might be controversial.
We are all faced with decisions that need to be made on a daily basis, both big and small. Take a moment to apply this four step process to improve the outcome of your decisions.
1) Widen your options: Narrow framing (blinds us to what else is available to us, widen the bias)
2) Reality test our assumptions – Stuff that does not support us, we tend to look for only those assumptions that support us
3) Attain Distance before deciding – Take time to think about an important decision. When making a decision we tend to act on emotion, pressures and often make decisions with short term benefits vs. long term.
4) Prepare to be wrong – We tend to be over optimistic about our future.