Taking complex decisions

12 Jul 2016

The Art of Complex Decision Making

I think it would be safe to say the quality of our life depends on the quality of the decisions we make. Some decisions are easy to make, like this one:

Should I make chicken curry for lunch?

No, I don’t want chicken curry.

Then what should we do? Should we step out?

Yeah let’s do that, I don’t mind!

And some decisions are more complex. They involve more than one variable, and they have more significant consequences, like this one:

I have two job offers. One offers me exciting work. The other pays much better but the work is boring.

How does one make a decision here?

If one of the options is clearly better than the other, then it’s an easy decision. The difficulty arises when both options are reasonably good. In a situation like this, I would ask you to go back to your values, that oft-overlooked driver in our lives. Whenever you override your values for money or fame or temporary gratification, you lose vitality in the long run. When you override money, fame or temporary gratification for your values, you lose in the short run. What are your values in the sphere of work? Innovation? Good people? International exposure? What’s the strongest value here for you? Think if you want to choose the job on that value. It might pay off in the long run.

Now let’s think of a third situation that is, in my mind, far more complex.

Image you are a look for a house to live in and you have to move in within the next two months. This situation is trickier than the job. You don’t know your available options. You will never get all options in one go so you can quickly compare and decide.

What to do now?

In a case like this, with insufficient information, there is more work to be done, and more patience and mental toughness involved. Here’s what you do first: Break the total time available to you into two distinct parts: Part 1 is all about enriching available information to empower decision making and Part 2 is the evaluation / deciding stage.

So now you have some focus. You only need to find more options now. Again, list down the values important to your family – location, neighbours, silence, proximity to malls. Yes? No? When you find options, rate them as per these parameters. This not only enriches information for decision-making. It also ranks it, and ranking is an enabler for decision-making.

Also decide how much time you want to devote to parts 1 and 2. There are no rules. You have to do what you’re comfortable with. Some people would be comfortable taking 30 days for part 1 while some others would want 45 days.

I want to touch upon one more decision that is probably the most complex of all: deciding who to marry.

Why is it so? Because no matter what a person says or how they appear, there are oceans of beliefs, habits and activities moving under a person that we cannot see. Also, people change over time, you included. People are mysteries. People are unpredictable. People make us deliriously happy, then they make us deliriously sad, then they bore us but through all this we have much to learn by walking a journey with them as well!

So how to make this decision?

It is strategic head and strategic heart, with lots of intuition. Make sure your head is in the right place: is the person reasonably intelligent, do they work hard, do they share the same values as you and pursue the same activities as you? Compatibility in values and activities is probably the best indicator of whether this is going to work. Research shows that couples – no matter how romantic their courtship or how honest their intentions may be – ultimately sink or swim on the basis of how they navigate the everyday. And this comes down to values and activities. If you’re both compatible here, then there’s less of a chance that one of you wants riches while the other wants spiritual growth or that one of you wants to go abroad every year while the other prefers to spend holidays indoors.

Strategic heart is also required: Forget how this person makes you feel for a moment. Is this person empathetic? Do they see and respect you as a person? Or are they using you to achieve their goals?

When in doubt, listen to your intuition  

But here’s the deal: your intuition already knows the right option no matter what the complexity. It is leaning toward a decision on a criterion that is neither logical nor emotional but from some place deeper inside you. All things considered, rely on your intuition for the litmus test. Take inputs from head and heart but finally place it all on the table of your intuition, your CEO, and ask them what they think. The voice of the intuition is relevant but our challenge is to learn how to listen to this voice and make sense of it. The simplest way is to listen to the core energy of your intuition: does it brighten or darken upon considering the decision? There’s more to this and it can only be learnt over time. But that’s the subject of another blog!

About the Author:

Sandhya Reddy is an Executive coach, Leadership and Business coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents and entrepreneurs to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.

Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, personality development, leadership coaching, business coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals.

Starting your own business can be exciting and daunting. It means coming face to face with hidden beliefs and behaviours that may be coming in the way of success. If you are an entrepreneur, Business Coaching helps you craft a vision, take responsibility, prioritize strategic thinking, and complement the best-laid plans with systematic action. Entrepreneurship involves a significant mind-set change but the right positive self-talk is the first start point.


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