We face some common obstacles that get in the way of our decision-making skills. Understanding and overcoming them is essential to breaking destructive decision-making patterns and getting to better outcomes.
Here are 5 common obstacles and how to deal with them.
Obstacle 1: Putting Too Much Importance on Your “Anchor”
An anchor is when we place a disproportionate amount of importance on an initial piece of information or data.
Let’s say you are negotiating to buy a new house. For some, the anchor will be the list price. However, someone making strategic decisions will look to the budget as the anchor.
To overcome the distraction of anchors, you can try writing down the decision you need to make. Then, list the obstacles and challenges.
Once you understand what’s getting in your way, write a series of options, along with the pros and cons of each option.
This process forces you to slow down and consider the situation from various angles instead of getting sidetracked by one potential option or piece of information.
Obstacle 2: Confirmation Bias
Another persistent problem is one that is difficult to see in ourselves.
Confirmation bias, in which we look for and interpret information in ways that support what we believe, can be influenced by a decision to be “right” or wishful thinking.
Clues that confirmation bias may be an issue include getting information from the same sources, avoiding information that may hurt your psychological well-being, or “bend” facts to make them support your beliefs.
Maybe you should try thinking about the problem in different ways, considering the opposite interpretation or solution than your initial inclination. Get information from multiple sources and be sure you carefully consider all aspects before you make a decision.
Obstacle 3: Group Think
Fear of rejection, embarrassment, or ridicule can lead to group think. Group think is when the team tends to gravitate toward one idea on a regular basis instead of challenging norms and coming up with new approaches.
It is a big deal, because what happens is if you’re striving for innovation, group think will stymie innovation. It will prevent the big breakthroughs from happening.
If you’re trying to solve a problem or a challenge, it prevents different perspectives from being voiced and brought to the table. It shuts down creativity, and it even shuts down productivity.
Encourage yourself to challenge norms. Ask for others’ opinions, but never let them make the decision for you.
Obstacle 4: Present Bias
Present bias favors immediate rewards over those in the future. The problem with present bias is that it inhibits long-term strategy and forgoing long-term gains for short-term benefits. Overspending, lack of planning, and procrastination can all be signs of present bias.
If you tend to be an impulsive decision maker, impose a “cooling-off”period before you finalize big decisions. And learn to think about the future ramifications of your decisions—both positive and negative.
Get in touch with your ‘future self’ by frequently imagining your life 10 or more years from today or maybe even when you’re retired. Think about your career or business similarly when faced with big decisions.
Obstacle 5: Personal Patterns
In addition to common challenges, gaining insight into your personal decision-making patterns can help you make better decision.
Depending on what your pattern is, where you get tripped up will be different for you.
Reflect on your own personal patterns and motivations in decision making. Look for areas where you may be particularly strong or where decisions haven’t gone the way you had hoped.
Ego sometimes needs to be checked, to be able to defer to others to bring their specialties through. Assessment tools can also help, especially those that have been proven to be highly effective in pinpointing individual decision-making tendencies.